[JURIST] US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor [official profile] on Monday issued an order [order, PDF] blocking gay marriage in Kansas after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [official website] asked the US Supreme Court [official website] for an injunction. The delay temporarily prevents the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples in Kansas and will remain in effect until there is a further order either by Justice Sotomayor or by the full Court. The application for stay [PDF] was filed with Justice Sotomayor, who handles emergency legal matters in the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website]. Kansas, in an attempt to protect state’s rights, made heavy use of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit‘s [official website] decision on Thursday that upholds same-sex marriage bans [JURIST report] in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Kansas is attempting to show that this case is distinguishable from other same-sex marriage cases the Court has refused to review or delay. Last week the Tenth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, and federal courts in this circuit are bound by that ruling. The Tenth Circuit refused a state request for delay on Friday. This is in conflict with a previous Kansas Supreme Court [official website] decision, blocking the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples [JURIST report]. If the Court had not intervened, the decision would have gone into effect on Tuesday. The application for the stay contended that the federal judge’s finding that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional interferes with the state supreme court’s review and circumvents the state court’s power.
This marked the first time that the same-sex marriage issue has returned to the Court since a split developed in the federal appeals courts on the power of states to ban same-sex marriage. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling creates a split of authority [press release] for the first time among the federal appeals courts and increases the likelihood of the matter going to the Supreme Court. US Attorney General Eric Holder announced in October that the federal government will now recognize same-sex marriage [JURIST report] in six additional states, bringing the total number of states recognizing same-sex marriage to 32.