On May 22, 2014, plaintiffs, a group of same-sex couples, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against various state and county officials. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought a declaratory judgment that South Dakota' ...
read more >
On May 22, 2014, plaintiffs, a group of same-sex couples, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against various state and county officials. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought a declaratory judgment that South Dakota's constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage violate plaintiffs' rights, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to equal protection, due process, and travel. Plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from enforcing the state's same-sex marriage bans or from declining to issue a marriage license because the applicants were of the same gender. Plaintiffs included both same-sex couples with valid out-of-state marriage licenses and same-sex couples seeking to get married in South Dakota.
On November 14, 2014, the District Court (Judge Karen E. Schreier), on defendant's motion, dismissed plaintiffs' right-to-travel claim. Plaintiffs had argued that South Dakota's same-sex marriage ban violated their right to travel by creating two Americas: one group of states where plaintiffs could travel and enjoy the protections that come with marriage and another group of states (including South Dakota) where they couldn't travel without being stripped of their marital status and accompanying legal protections. The District Court (Judge Karen E. Schreier) rejected this argument; the burden that plaintiffs identified applied equally to new and existing citizens of South Dakota and was dissimilar to cases in which a violation of the right to travel was found.
On January 12, 2015, the District Court (Judge Karen E. Schreier) held that South Dakota's same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution, granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. Over plaintiffs' objections, however, the court stayed the effects of the judgment, citing the substantial and novel legal questions at stake. Thus, unlike in many states, no same-sex marriages occurred in South Dakota.
On January 26, 2015, the defendants filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A few days later, the Eighth Circuit granted the parties' joint motion for an expedited appeal. Argument is set both in this case and in two other same-sex marriage cases, Lawson v. State of Missouri (PB-MO-0006
in this Clearinghouse) and Jernigan v. McDaniel (PB-AR-0004
in this Clearinghouse), for the second week of May.
On February 10, 2015, plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate the stay in the district court. On March 2, 2015, the District Court (Judge Karen E. Schreier) denied this motion. The court concluded that once the defendants filed their notice of appeal, jurisdiction over most issues in the case, including the stay, was transferred to the court of appeals. Therefore, plaintiffs could file their motion to vacate the stay only in the Eighth Circuit, not in the district court. Plaintiffs are unlikely to do so. That's because in Lawson v. State of Missouri, a similar same-sex marriage case discussed above, the Eighth Circuit denied a motion to vacate the lower court's stay.
The defendants' appeal of the district court's January 12th order is ongoing, but being held in abeyance pending the expected June 2015 resolution in the Supreme Court of Obergefell v. Hodges. David Hamstra - 02/22/2015