On November 17, 2011, several couples who reside in Alabama filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama against the State of Alabama, alleging violations of the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs, ...
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On November 17, 2011, several couples who reside in Alabama filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama against the State of Alabama, alleging violations of the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private counsel, sought a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees, alleging that the defendants' policies discriminated against non-U.S. citizens trying to obtain a marriage license in Alabama.
In Alabama, no person may marry without a marriage license. One of a probate judge's ministerial jobs is to issue marriage licenses to those couples that meet the requirements. Alabama law states that the parties issuing the marriage license must obtain the Social Security Number of the individuals getting married and have it appear in the marriage license and certificate. In 2008, the Alabama Attorney General, issued a statement saying that a Social Security Number or other proofs of citizenship were not required to obtain a marriage license. The Attorney General ordered the probate offices to instead allow people trying to get married the opportunity to submit an affidavit saying they do not have a Social Security Number.
On September 13, 2012, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) denied Defendant Probate Judge McKinney, Jr.'s (Probate Judge Reed's predecessor) motion to dismiss. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing since they did not apply for a marriage license and thus did not suffer any type of injury. However, the District Court (Judge Watkins) did not buy this argument since Judge McKinney, Jr. had a clear policy of requiring non-citizens who wanted to get a marriage license to provide proof of legal status. The District Court (Judge Watkins) thus found that the plaintiffs were effectively barred from applying for a marriage license and that applying for it would have been futile. On September 25, 2012, the District Court (Judge Watkins) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification so on December 7, 2012, the plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint.
On June 3, 2013, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) entered a protective order assuring the confidentiality of certain information disclosed by both parties. On June 11, 2013, the District Court (Judge Watkins) granted Defendant Probate Judge Reed's motion to dismiss any claims against him. Judge Reed argued that his probate office did not require proof of citizenship prior to issuing marriage licenses, and that he was actually willing to give the plaintiffs their marriage licenses if they had applied for it. Judge McKinney, Jr.'s prior policy was repealed and so the District Court (Judge Watkins) found that the plaintiffs no longer had standing.
On August 19, 2013, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) approved the parties' joint stipulation of dismissal. As part of the agreement, the official Probate County's marriage policy was amended and published so that it was clear that there were no citizenship requirements, including a Social Security Number, to obtaining a marriage license. Perry Miska - 03/30/2014