University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Fisher-Borne v. Smith PB-NC-0001
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-589 ( M.D. N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On June 13, 2012, several same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of North Carolina, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state of North Carolina. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court to declare that laws banning same-sex couples from ... read more >
On June 13, 2012, several same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of North Carolina, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state of North Carolina. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court to declare that laws banning same-sex couples from participating in second-parent adoption violated the U.S. Constitution, direct the defendants to recognize same-sex out-of-state marriages, allow same-sex couples to enter into marriage in North Carolina, and enjoin the defendants from enforcing any laws that prohibit same-sex marriage or adoption by same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs claimed that North Carolina's laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violated their rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. Additionally, they alleged that the state's ban on same-sex marriages deprived the couples and minor children of the same flow of benefits (including medical benefits) that a different-sex couple would receive and obstructed their ability to build their family.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on July 19, 2013, which the state moved to dismiss on Sept. 10 and 11, 2013. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs moved for preliminary injunction on Apr. 9, 2014, seeking to enjoin the state from denying recognition of valid same-sex marriages from other states.

On Oct. 9, 2014, North Carolina Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate moved to intervene on behalf of themselves and their constituents. The court granted their motion five days later.

On Oct. 14, 2014, the court declared North Carolina's laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were unconstitutional in preventing in-state same-sex marriages as well as recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. The court enjoined the state from implementing or enforcing these laws. The court based its decision on precedent from the Fourth Circuit in Bostic v. McDonnell, which held a Virginia law banning same-sex marriage and making such marriages invalid violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court denied certiorari for that case. This court held that it was bound by decisions made in the circuit court above. 14 F. Supp. 3d 695.

The state appealed to the Fourth Circuit. On February 10, 2015, the court placed this case in abeyance pending the United States Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States declared, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy in reference to the case Obergefell v. Hodges, that the right to marry was fundamental. In the opinion, the Court held that it demeaned gay and lesbian couples to deprive them of access to marriage. The 14th Amendment therefore prohibited states from banning same-sex marriage. Justice Kennedy was joined without further writing by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. Each of the four dissenters--Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito--wrote a dissent.

On Aug. 12, 2015, pursuant to a motion for voluntary dismissal, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal. The parties then litigated attorney's fees. The plaintiffs settled their attorney's fees with the intervenors for $44,501.36. The plaintiffs indicated that they sought $254,720.00 in attorney's fees from the defendants. There is no further docket activity after August 2017 to indicate the resolution of the remaining attorney's fees, though the case appears to be closed.

Megan Dolan - 11/09/2015
Virginia Weeks - 03/09/2018

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Sexual orientatation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) The State of North Carolina
Plaintiff Description Several same-sex couples residing in North Carolina who wish to have a state-recognized marriage.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-VA-0005 : Bostic v. McDonnell (E.D. Va.)
1:12−cv−00589 (M.D. N.C.)
PB-NC-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
PB-NC-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2012
Source: ACLU
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 40]
PB-NC-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/19/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 97]
PB-NC-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Order [ECF# 138] (M.D. N.C.)
PB-NC-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Osteen, William Lindsay Jr. (M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate]
PB-NC-0001-0004 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Peake, Joi Elizabeth (State Trial Court, M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate]
PB-NC-0001-0003 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beeney , Garrard R (New York)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Bradley, Catherine M (New York)
Brook, Christopher (North Carolina)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Castleman, David A (New York)
Esseks, James Dixon (New York)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Falcone, Jeremy M (North Carolina)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Gill, Elizabeth O. (California)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Kleysteuber, William R. A. (New York)
Meyler, Daniel W (New York)
O'Donnell, Patrick P. (District of Columbia)
Richardson, Amy E. (North Carolina)
Sasser, Jonathan D (North Carolina)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-0002 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Saxe, Rose A. (New York)
PB-NC-0001-0001 | PB-NC-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Balentine, Grady L. Jr. (North Carolina)
Bullock, Mabel Y (North Carolina)
Eastman, John C. (California)
Everett-Perry, Kathy R. (North Carolina)
Johnson, Noel H. (Indiana)
Payne, John Mark (North Carolina)
Potter, Robert Daniel (North Carolina)
Vanderhulst, Joseph A. (Indiana)
Vysotskaya de Brito, Olga Eugenia (North Carolina)
Whitehead, Charles Gibson (North Carolina)

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -