Last week judges at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals put on a spectacular show when they eviscerated the arguments of anti-gay attorneys from Wisconsin and Indiana. Next week we could see a repeat performance when lawyers present their cases to the Ninth Circuit.
Marriage-equality attorneys have racked up dozens of victories over the last year and a half, with judges directing increasingly intense questions to opponents of equality. On Sept. 8 the Ninth Circuit will have its opportunity to interrogate attorneys from Nevada, Idaho and Hawaii.
The Ninth Circuit arguments have been a long time coming. The Nevada case dates back to April 2012, and after some initially swift movement it's essentially been on hold for nearly two years. A lower-court judge ruled that Nevada's marriage-equality ban is unconstitutional, but in the intervening time there have been some significant changes to the judicial landscape, including an improved standard of review in the Ninth Circuit for cases involving LGBT discrimination.
The Idaho case is more recent and straightforward. The National Center for Lesbian rights brought the case and won the first round earlier this year. The state requested a full 11-judge review, which would be unusual, but the court denied that request, and a three-judge panel will hear oral argument on Sept. 8. Given Idaho's earlier request, it's possible that the state may try again for a larger panel once the three-judge panel rules.
The Hawaii case is a little unusual. Marriage equality is already the law in Hawaii, but the lawsuit began before the marriage-quality ban was overturned. The first court to hear the case ruled that the state's marriage-equality ban was constitutional. And now, even though the ban has been overturned legislatively, the plaintiffs in the case are pressing ahead with an appeal because they want that lower court's decision to be overturned.