University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bostic v. McDonnell PB-VA-0005
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-00395 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On July 18, 2013, two Virginia residents filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the state of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief barring ... read more >
On July 18, 2013, two Virginia residents filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the state of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief barring enforcement of Va. Code §§ 25-45.2 and 20-45.4 and Article I, § 15-A of the Virginia Constitution, alleging that these provisions are unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that these Virginia laws and constitutional provisions denying individuals the opportunity to marry a person of their same sex violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

On August 9, 2013, the state moved to dismiss the case on grounds of sovereign immunity. On September 3, 2013 plaintiffs amended their complaint to add two additional plaintiffs and two additional defendants to the lawsuit. The newly added plaintiffs were Virginia residents married under the laws of California who sought recognition of their marriage under Virginia law. The additional defendants included the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the City or Norfolk and the State Registrar of Vital Records.

On January 23, 2014, the Office of the Attorney General submitted a formal change in position and relinquished her prior defense of Virginia's marriage laws. Prince William County Clerk was granted defendant intervenor status and continued to defend the marriage ban.

The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction, and both sides sought summary judgment; a hearing was held on February 4. On February 13, 2014, the District Court (Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen) granted summary judgment and a preliminary injunction for the plaintiff and entered an order enjoining Virginia from continuing to enforce the marriage ban. The court held that these laws violate both Due Process and Equal Protection. However, Judge Allen stayed the injunction pending the final disposition of any appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After the district court decision, a class action suit (also in this Clearinghouse) intervened as a party in the Fourth Circuit to have its constitutional challenges decided as part of the Bostic litigation.

On July 28, 2014 the Fourth Circuit affirmed, agreeing with the district court that the same-sex marriage ban violated the Constitution. The majority opinion, by Hudge Henry Floyd, found that the ban impermissibly infringed upon Virginians' fundamental right to marry. A dissent by Judge Paul Niemeyer said that the state had a right to define marriage as relationships between one man and one woman. 760 F.3d 352.

The Supreme Court granted a stay to the Fourth Circuit's mandate on August 20, 2014 pending their decision on the defendants' petition for a writ of certiorari. However, the Supreme Court later denied writ on October 4, 2014 and the stay was lifted. Same sex couples were then allowed to wed in Virginia.

Back in district court the parties began litigation over attorneys fees, which continued for a few months with the parties eventually settling on the proper amount awarded to plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs' counsel.

Carlyn Williams - 11/04/2013
Abigail DeHart - 02/01/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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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
State law
Defendant(s) Clerk of Circuit Court
State Registrar of Vital Records
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs include one same sex couple who desire to get married in Virginia, and a same sex couple who were legally married in California and desire to have their marriage recognized in Virginia.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PB-VA-0004 : Harris v. McDonnell (W.D. Va.)
PB-NC-0001 : Fisher-Borne v. Smith (M.D. N.C.)
PB-NC-0006 : General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper (W.D.N.C.)
13-cv-00395 (E.D. Va.)
PB-VA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive and Other Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-VA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/18/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive, and Other Relief [ECF# 18]
PB-VA-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/03/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dismiss as Moot the Governor and Attorney General's Motion to Dismiss and the Commonwealth of Virginia's Motion to Intervene [ECF# 20]
PB-VA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order (970 F.Supp.2d 456) (E.D. Va.)
PB-VA-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/13/2014
Source: Westlaw
[Opinion] [Ct. of App. ECF# 234] (760 F.3d 352)
PB-VA-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order in Pending Case (135 S.Ct. 32)
PB-VA-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/20/2014
Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion [Denying Certiorari] (135 S.Ct. 314)
PB-VA-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/06/2014
Source: Westlaw
Judges Allen, Arenda Lauretta Wright (E.D. Va.)
PB-VA-0005-0005 | PB-VA-0005-9000
Floyd, Henry Franklin (D.S.C., Fourth Circuit)
Niemeyer, Paul Victor (D. Md., Fourth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boies, David (New York)
Boutrous, Theodore J. Jr. (California)
Fiebig, Chantale (District of Columbia)
Goldman, Jeremy Michael (California)
Hendrick, Andrew Mitchell (Virginia)
Isaacson, William A. (District of Columbia)
Lipshutz, Joshua S. (California)
Lustig, Charles Barnet (Virginia)
PB-VA-0005-0001 | PB-VA-0005-0002 | PB-VA-0005-9000
McGill, Matthew Dempsey (District of Columbia)
Olson, Theodore B. (District of Columbia)
Porcaro, Erik C. (Virginia)
Ruloff, Robert Eugene (Virginia)
PB-VA-0005-0001 | PB-VA-0005-0002 | PB-VA-0005-9000
Schiller, Josh (New York)
Shuttleworth, Thomas Brady (Virginia)
PB-VA-0005-0001 | PB-VA-0005-0002 | PB-VA-0005-9000
Silver, Robert Brian (New York)
Tayrani, Amir Cameron (District of Columbia)
Defendant's Lawyers Beale, Rita W. (Virginia)
Brady, Michael H. (Virginia)
Cuccinelli, Kenneth T. II (Virginia)
Getchell, Earle Duncan Jr. (Virginia)
PB-VA-0005-0003 | PB-VA-0005-9000 | PB-VA-0005-9000
Oakley, David Brandt (Virginia)
Thomas, Norman Allan (Virginia)
Tysinger, Allyson (Virginia)
Other Lawyers Matney, Mark Randolph (Virginia)
Mattox, Michael Casey (District of Columbia)

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