Last night, the state of Nevada dropped its defense of its voter-approved constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, saying that a recent decision 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to apply heightened scrutiny to cases of sexual orientation-based discrimination renders the state's arguments unsustainable. Reuters reports:
The move, made by the state's Democratic attorney general with the support of its Republican governor, does not legalize gay marriage in Nevada but removes the state as an opponent of those fighting to overturn the ban in federal court.
State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said that after careful review, the state had filed a motion to withdraw a brief it filed last month in support of the ban in a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit...
In supporting Masto's move, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who is seeking re-election this year, said the state's ban would not hold up to legal scrutiny.
"Based upon the advice of the attorney general's office and their interpretation of relevant case law, it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court," Sandoval, a Republican, said of the decision.
According to BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner, the case will continue on in the 9th Circuit, but:
Should the plaintiffs win at the 9th Circuit, however -- as the Nevada officials now appear to believe will happen -- then the situation could become more complicated. If none of the government officials, unwilling to defend the law now, would be willing to seek to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, then it would appear to set up a situation similar to that which happened in the case challenging California's Proposition 8 where the Supreme Court held that an outside group who backed an amendment does not have standing to seek an appeal.