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4:14-cv-00107 #92 - Florida Opposition to Lifting Stay

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Doc 92 - FLorida AG's Opposition to lifting stay
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   IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA TALLAHASSEE DIVISION JAMES DOMER BRENNER, et al. , Plaintiffs , v. Case No. 4:14-cv-107-RH/CAS RICK SCOTT, et al. ,  Defendants . / SLOAN GRIMSLEY, et al. , Plaintiffs , v. Case No. 4:14-cv-138-RH/CAS RICK SCOTT, et al. ,  Defendants . / DEFENDANTS’ JOINT MOTION TO CONTINUE STAY PENDING APPEAL AND OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS’ MOTIONS TO LIFT STAY The Clerk of Court of Washington County, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS), and the Secretary of the Florida Department of Health (DOH) (collectively, the “Enjoined Officials”), move to continue the stay pending appeal. They also respond in opposition to the plaintiffs’ requests to lift the stay. 1   1  The Clerk of Court of Washington County is a defendant in only one of these two consolidated cases. For the Court’s convenience, though, the Enjoined Officials file this one document. Case 4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS Document 92 Filed 10/24/14 Page 1 of 11   As this Court correctly recognized, “[t]here is a substantial public interest in implementing this decision just once—in not having, as some states have had, a decision that is on-again, off-again.” (DE 74 at 28-29.) “This is so for marriages already entered elsewhere, and it is more clearly so for new marriages.”  Id.  at 29. This Court has already entered a limited stay after recognizing the “substantial public interest in stable marriage laws,” id. , and it should continue the stay until the federal appeals court can review the decision. On balance, it is in the public’s best interest to wait for an appellate decision  before implementing an order of this significance. Procedural Background Earlier this year, the plaintiffs filed complaints challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s marriage laws and seeking injunctive relief. They sought relief against the DOH Secretary based on his authority to issue and amend certifications of death that reflect marital status; they sought relief against the DMS Secretary based on his authority to manage Florida’s retirement and pension plans, which in part provide specific benefits  based on marital status; and they sought relief against the Clerk of Court based on his authority to issue marriage licenses in Washington County. On August 21, 2014, this Court entered a preliminary injunction. The injunction  barred the Secretaries from enforcing Florida’s marriage laws, and it required the Clerk of Court to issue a marriage license to the two plaintiffs seeking one. The Enjoined Officials appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, and the appeal remains pending. The initial  brief is due November 14, 2014. 2 Case 4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS Document 92 Filed 10/24/14 Page 2 of 11   This Court stayed its injunction (except regarding the amended death certificate for Ms. Goldberg) until 91 days following the denial or lifting of stays in three federal circuit court decisions—   Bostic v. Schaefer   (4th Cir.),  Bishop v. Smith  (10th Cir.) and Kitchen v. Herbert   (10th Cir.). It also specified that it could lift or extend the stay by further order. The stays in  Bostic ,  Bishop , and Kitchen  expired or were lifted after the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari petitions in those cases on October 6, so the current stay is set to expire on January 5, 2015 (91 days later). Same-Sex Marriage Litigation Throughout Florida This is not the only challenge to Florida’s marriage laws. Throughout the State, there are challenges presenting the same issue presented here: Whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires Florida to allow same-sex marriage. No fewer than three state district courts of appeal have the issue before them: ã   The Third District has the consolidated cases of State v. Pareto  and State v.  Huntsman , Nos. 3D14-1816 and 3D14-1783, both of which address whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires local clerks of court to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The lower courts found that it did, and they ordered the clerks of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties to begin issuing licenses. Those decisions are stayed pending appeal. (The plaintiffs in  Huntsman  asked the trial court and the district court to lift the automatic stay, but both courts denied the request). ã   The Second District has Shaw v. Shaw , No. 2D14-2384, which raises the issue of whether Florida’s marriage laws allow a Florida court to dissolve a same-sex marriage entered in another state and, if they do not, whether that prohibition violates the Fourteenth Amendment. ã   The Fourth District has  Dousset v. Florida Atlantic University , No. 4D14-480, which presents a same-sex partner’s challenge to the university’s refusal to give him in-state tuition, despite his same-sex marriage entered into in another  jurisdiction. That case, too, raises the validity of Florida’s marriage laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. 3 Case 4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS Document 92 Filed 10/24/14 Page 3 of 11  ã   There are numerous additional trial court cases raising the validity of Florida’s marriage laws. Because parties are continually raising this issue in courts throughout Florida, the State has taken steps toward a final Florida Supreme Court review. In the consolidated Pareto  and  Huntsman  cases, pending in the Third District, the State recently filed papers seeking pass-through certification. The State noted that the issue presented was unquestionably an important issue, and that the plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer with statewide effect. The State had earlier argued against pass-through certification, noting that the United States Supreme Court was likely to grant review in one of the then-pending cases—and therefore likely to provide a final answer with nationwide effect. After the United States Supreme Court’s October 6 decision denying all of the pending certiorari  petitions, the State acted to move the issue in Florida toward an orderly resolution by seeking pass-through jurisdiction. Earlier today, the Third District entered an order carrying the issue with the case. Argument in Favor of Continuing Stay “A stay does not make time stand still, but does hold a ruling in abeyance to allow an appellate court the time necessary to review it.”  Nken v. Holder  , 556 U.S. 418, 421 (2009). Whether a stay is appropriate depends on “the circumstances of the particular case.”  Id.  at 433 (internal quotation and citation omitted). The circumstances of this  particular case demonstrate the need for a stay. As this Court noted in initially granting the stay, there are four factors to be considered: (1) the likelihood of prevailing on the merits on appeal; (2) irreparable harm 4 Case 4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS Document 92 Filed 10/24/14 Page 4 of 11

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Jul 23, 2017
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