2should abstain from deciding the federal constitutional issues squarely presented to it. The State Defendants’ motion is baseless, and comes nowhere close to demonstrating that the Court should depart from its “virtually unflagging obligation” to exercise its jurisdiction here.
Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States
,424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976).Plaintiffs are same-sex couples challenging Wisconsin’s ban against marriage for same-sex couples, not its domestic partnership laws. Contrary to the State Defendants’ suggestion, that challenge does not turn upon any unsettled question of state law, such that
abstention is warranted. There is nothing ambiguous, nor anything at issue in
, about the provision of Wisconsin’s constitution stating that “[o]nly a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” Nor is there any unsettled question regarding the impact of this provision upon Plaintiffs: it means Plaintiffs cannot get married in Wisconsin, nor will Wisconsin recognize their out-of-state marriages, and it is precisely that impact that Plaintiffs contend violates their constitutional rights.The State Defendants’ attempt to invoke
abstention fares no better. The State Defendants complain that a judgment in this case would interfere with their interestin “coherence and uniformity in the administration of state marriage policy.” But under binding Seventh Circuit precedent, that is not enough to invoke
abstention. Rather, there must also be some specialized state forum to adjudicate the claims at issue. The State Defendants cannot show (and have made no attempt to show) that is the case here.
I.There Is No Basis For
Abstention Does Not Apply Because There Is No Unsettled Question Of State Law Affecting Plaintiffs’ Federal Claims.
abstention, a court abstains in order to avoid unnecessary constitutional adjudication.”
International College of Surgeons v. City of Chicago
, 153 F.3d 356, 361 (7th Cir.
Case: 3:14-cv-00064-bbc Document #: 60 Filed: 03/18/14 Page 2 of 12