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2:13-cv-05090 #102

2:13-cv-05090 #102

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Published by Equality Case Files
Doc 102 - Defendants' Opposition to Summary Judgment
Doc 102 - Defendants' Opposition to Summary Judgment

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Published by: Equality Case Files on May 25, 2014
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07/07/2014

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U
NITED
S
TATES
D
ISTRICT
C
OURT
 E
 ASTERN
D
ISTRICT OF
L
OUISIANA 
 
J
ONATHAN
P.
 
R
OBICHEAUX
,
 
et al.
,
 Plaintiffs
 v. J
 AMES
D.
 
C
 ALDWELL
,
 
et al.,  Defendants
 C
IVIL
 A 
CTION
 N
O
.
 
13-5090 S
ECTION
F(5) J
UDGE
M
 ARTIN
L.C.
 
F
ELDMAN
 M
 AGISTRATE
M
ICHAEL
N
ORTH
 REF:
 
 A 
LL
C
 ASES
 
DEFENDANTS’ OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT I
NTRODUCTION
 
Plaintiffs say the United States Constitution requires Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriage. But, just last year, the Supreme Court said each state’s citizens may decide that matter for themselves.
United States v. Windsor
, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013). Louisiana’s citizens did so in 2004. The idea that the Constitution overrides their decision “is demeaning to the democratic process,”
Schuette v. BAMN 
, 134 S. Ct. 1623, 1637 (2014) (op. of Kennedy, J.), and should be rejected. Based on the parties’ submissions, there are no genuine disputes as to any material facts.
1
 The parties agree that Louisiana law prevents defendants from recognizing plaintiffs’ same-sex marriages. L
 A 
.
 
C
ONST
. art. XII, § 15; L
 A 
.
 
C
IV
.
 
C
ODE
 
1
 Defendants do not contest plaintiffs’ standing.
See Windsor
, 133 S. Ct. at 2685 (plaintiff “suffered a redressable injury” when made to pay taxes under allegedly invalid law);
 Adar v. Smith
, 639 F.3d 146, 150 (5th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (Appellees had standing when “denied a revised birth certificate containing [their] names … as parents”). Plaintiffs’ full faith and credit claim, however, should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Def. MSJ 10-11.
Case 2:13-cv-05090-MLCF-ALC Document 102 Filed 05/20/14 Page 1 of 24
 
 
2 art. 3520(B).
2
 The Court can decide the constitutional recognition issues as a matter of law. Therefore, defendants ask the Court to: (1) deny plaintiffs’ partial motion for summary judgment (Doc. 86), and (2) grant defendants’ partial motion for summary  judgment and motion to dismiss (Doc. 84).
 A 
RGUMENT
 I. P
LAINTIFFS WOULD NULLIFY
L
OUISIANA 
S AUTHORITY TO DEFINE MARRIAGE
.
Plaintiffs’ equal protection and due process claims fail on their own terms.
See
 II, III,
 infra
. They also fail because they would nullify Louisiana’s “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”
Windsor
, 133 S. Ct. at 2692. That authority was of “central relevance,”
id.
, to the Supreme Court’s decision last year invalidating the federal marriage definition in DOMA section 3. The Court found section 3 violated the Fifth Amendment rights of same-sex couples lawfully married under New York law because of section 3’s “unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage.”
Id.
 at 2693. New York’s decision to “recognize and then to allow same-sex marriages” was,
Windsor
underscored, “without doubt a proper exercise of its sovereign authority within our federal system.”
Id.
 at 2692.
Windsor
 thus affirms that states act within
2
 
See
 Pl. MSJ (Doc. 86-1) 4; Pl. Stmt. (Doc. 86-4) 2; Def. MSJ (Doc. 84-1) 1-2; Def. Stmt. (Doc. 84-3) 1-3. Defendants disagree, however, with some of plaintiffs’ characterizations of Louisiana law. For instance, it is incorrect to say that Louisiana Revenue Information Bulletin No. 13-024 “will not follow” IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, Doc. 86-4 ¶9, since the IRS ruling applies only to the federal government. Doc. 84-4 (Barfield aff.) ¶¶10, 12. It is also incorrect to say that the Louisiana bulletin and tax forms are “contrary to La. R.S. 47:294,” Doc. 86-4 ¶12, since the statute must be construed in light of the Louisiana Constitution. Doc. 84-4 (Barfield aff.) ¶¶7-12. But these are legal, not factual disagreements, and they do not prevent the Court from deciding the constitutional issues as a matter of law.
Case 2:13-cv-05090-MLCF-ALC Document 102 Filed 05/20/14 Page 2 of 24
 
 
3 their authority when they democratically decide whether to recognize same-sex marriage.
See, e.g., id.
 at 2692-93 (observing “[t]he dynamics of state government in the federal system are to allow the formation of consensus” respecting a “far-reaching” matter like same-sex marriage). In contravention of
Windsor
, plaintiffs would constitutionalize the issue and nullify Louisiana’s authority to decide it. Plaintiffs’ claims should fail for that reason alone.
See
Def. MSJ (Doc. 84-1) 3-7.
3
 Last month, the Supreme Court reinforced
Windsor
’s respect for state authority in
Schuette
, which rejected an equal protection challenge to a Michigan constitutional amendment forbidding affirmative action in public universities. The Court found that “Michigan voters [had] exercised their privilege to enact [the amendment] as a basic exercise of their democratic power.” 134 S. Ct. at 1636 (op. of Kennedy, J.). Recognizing the amendment reflected “the national dialogue regarding the wisdom and practicality of [affirmative action],”
Schuette
 held that “courts may not disempower the voters from choosing which path to follow.”
Id.
 at 1631, 1635. To deem affirmative action too “sensitive,” “complex,” or “delicate” for voters would be “an unprecedented restriction on the exercise of a fundamental right held not just by one person but by all in common.”
Id.
 at 1637. “It is demeaning to the democratic process,” the Court said, “to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational
3
 Their claims also fail in light of the Faith and Credit Clause, which does not require a state to recognize out-of-state marriages. Def. MSJ 7-10;
 Baker v. Gen. Motors Corp.
, 522 U.S. 222, 232-33 (1998) (full faith and credit “does not compel a state to substitute the statutes of other states for its own statutes dealing with a subject matter concerning which it is competent to legislate”) (citation omitted). Congress confirmed that principle by enacting DOMA section 2. Def. MSJ 9-10 (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1738C).
Case 2:13-cv-05090-MLCF-ALC Document 102 Filed 05/20/14 Page 3 of 24

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