John M. Becker

South Carolina Supremes Press Pause on Marriage

Filed By John M. Becker | October 09, 2014 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Fourth Circuit, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, South Carolina, Supreme Court

south-carolina.pngThe state Supreme Court in South Carolina has ordered county clerks there not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Columbia's WLTX-TV reports:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has put the granting of same-sex marriage licenses on hold until a pending ruling comes in from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Their decision was announced just before noon Thursday.

The justices said they must wait until Bradacs vs. Haley is decided by the Fourth Circuit. That case involves a Lexington County couple who were married in another state, but have not had their union recognized in South Carolina. Their lawsuit directly challenges the constitutionality of the state's ban on gay marriage.

This is an annoyance, to be sure, but it's only a temporary one. Since the Supreme Court declined to review Bostic v. Schaefer (the Virginia marriage equality case), the lower court ruling in that case -- which struck down Virginia's discriminatory marriage laws as unconstitutional -- is binding precedent for the entire Fourth Circuit, which includes South Carolina.

What this means is that Fourth Circuit has to decide the Bradacs case consistently with the decision in Bostic -- i.e. they have to rule in favor of marriage equality. It's just that that ruling hasn't happened yet.

When it does come down, marriage equality will be law in South Carolina.

Image via Freedom to Marry.
Thanks to Kathleen Perrin of Equality Case Files for lending her analytical expertise to this post.

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