[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments Monday in three cases involving same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii [materials]. The three-judge panel consists of judges Stephen Reinhardt [official profile], appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Marsha Berzon [official profile] and Ronald Gould [official profile], appointed by Bill Clinton. Reinhardt has a particularly noteworthy history in same-sex marriage, as he was on the court that struck down [JURIST op-ed] California’s same-sex marriage ban in 2012. Jon Davidson, legal director of gay-rights group Lambda Legal, believes [LAT report] that this should be an easy decision for the court, stating “I don’t know of any other civil rights issue in America that has seen as rapid a change as this, both in the courts and in public opinion.”
In May the US District Court for the District of Idaho struck down [JURIST report] the state’s law banning same-sex marriage. Federal judge Candy Dale found that Idaho’s laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, stating that “This conclusion reaffirms a longstanding maxim underlying our system of government—a state’s broad authority to regulate matters of state concern does not include the power to violate an individual’s protected constitutional rights.” In February Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced [JURIST report] that her office would no longer be pursuing its legal defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban, stating that recent decisions in the Ninth Circuit had rendered the state’s arguments untenable. In November last year a Hawaii Circuit Court judge upheld [JURIST report] the state’s recently enacted same-sex marriage law despite a challenge from opponents who argued the state’s Constitution prohibited it.