A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Supreme Court reverses Alabama ruling blocking same-sex adoption

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday reversed [opinion, PDF] an Alabama Supreme Court decision that refused to recognize an out-of-state adoption by a same-sex partner. Petitioner, VL, had legally adopted the biological children of her partner, EL, while living in Georgia. When the pair split, VL sought custody and visitation rights in Alabama. The Alabama Supreme Court, however, refused to recognize the decision of a Georgia court to recognize the adoption, declaring the adoption void. In a per curiam decision, the Supreme Court reversed, finding the Alabama court must give full faith and credit [LII backgrounder] to the Georgia court decision.

Under Georgia law, as relevant here, "[t]he superior courts of the several counties shall have exclusive jurisdiction in all matters of adoption." ... That provision on its face gave the Georgia Superior Court subject-matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the adoption petition at issue here. The Superior Court resolved that matter by entering a final judgment that made V.L. the legal adoptive parent of the children. Whatever the merits of that judgment, it was within the statutory grant of jurisdiction over "all matters of adoption." The Georgia court thus had the "adjudicatory authority over the subject matter" required to entitle its judgment to full faith and credit.
VL had appealed [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court in November.

Same-sex marriage and adoption rights remain in a state of legal uncertainty despite the Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] last June that states must allow same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. Last week the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed petitions [JURIST report] that sought a ruling declaring the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage valid. In August Mississippi civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the policy that bans adoption by married same-sex couples.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.