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3:14-cv-00213 #45

3:14-cv-00213 #45

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Published by Equality Case Files
Doc 45 - State Defendants' Brief in support of Motion to stay proceedings
Doc 45 - State Defendants' Brief in support of Motion to stay proceedings

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Published by: Equality Case Files on May 27, 2014
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10/02/2014

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA 3:14-cv-213 GENERAL SYNOD OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, et al., Plaintiffs, v. ROY COOPER, in his official capacity as the Attorney General of North Carolina, et al., Defendants. )) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF STATE
DEFENDANTS’
MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS
Defendants ROY COOPER, RONALD L. MOORE, ROXANN VANEEKHOVEN, NED MANGUM, BRADLEY K. GREENWAY and ANDREW MURRAY, all sued in their official capacitie
s only (hereinafter referred to as the “State Defendants”)
, by and through the undersigned attorneys, submit the following Brief in support of their motion to stay all  proceedings herein, pending a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Bostic v. Schaefer (Case Nos. 14-1167, 14-1169, 14-1173). Here, Plaintiffs filed an action and a motion for a preliminary injunction on April 28, 2014. [DE 1, 3]. The
State Defendants’ time to respond to the motion
 
and Plaintiffs’ Complaint
has not yet expired. Bostic was heard before the Fourth Circuit on May 13, 2014, at which time
the Fourth Circuit’s panel
considered arguments regarding
the constitutionality of Virginia’s
laws that define marriage as a union exclusively between one man and one woman. The Fourth
Circuit’s opinion will certainly impact, potentially resolve, and could serve as binding precedent
on the issues implicated by the instant matter wherein Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of  Nor 
th Carolina’s
similar marriage laws that define marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. Consequently, the State Defendants respectfully request a stay of all proceedings
Case 3:14-cv-00213-RJC-DCK Document 45 Filed 05/27/14 Page 1 of 9
 
 
2
 pending the Fourth Circuit’s opinion in
Bostic in order to (1) promote judicial efficiency; (2) avoid overturning the legal
 status quo
 in North Carolina by prematurely voiding a provision of the State Constitution; (3) avoid the legal and practical consequences associated with a ruling from this Court that could be inconsisten
t with the Fourth Circuit’s opinion in
Bostic, including the premature abdication or pursuit of marriage by Plaintiffs and those who are similarly situated; (4) possible emergency intervention by the United States Supreme Court;
1
 and, (5) conserve the resources of the parties and this tribunal. In support of this Motion, the State Defendants offer the following argument outlining the reasons for the requested stay. ARGUMENT I. THIS COURT SHOULD REFRAIN FROM ISSUING AN ACCELERATED OPINION IN THIS MATTER GIVEN THE POSSIBILITY THAT IT COULD SOON BE OVERRULED, MODIFIED, OR ULTIMATELY REMANDED FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS CONSISTENT WITH THE FOURTH CIRCUIT'S OPINION IN BOSTIC. The Fourth Circuit has expressly held that sexual orientation is not a suspect class, and that any legislation based on sexual orientation is subject to no higher scrutiny than a rational  basis review. Thomasson v. Perry, 80 F.3d 915, 928 (4th Cir.), cert denied, 519 U.S. 948 (1996); Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 732-34 (4th Cir. 2002). Yet, the Fourth Circuit has not yet opined on the issue presented in this lawsuit - whether the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates that States must define marriage to include unions between same-sex couples. As noted, Bostic is a case challenging the
constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws
that define marriage as a union of one man and one woman, on Due Process and Equal Protection grounds. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on May 13,
1
 Herbert , et al. v. Kitchen, et. al., 134 S. Ct. 893 (2014); see
“Justices’ Halt to Gay Marriage Leaves Utah Couples in Limbo,”
New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/justices-block-gay-marriage-in-utah-pending-appeal.html?_r=0.
Case 3:14-cv-00213-RJC-DCK Document 45 Filed 05/27/14 Page 2 of 9
 
 
3
2014.
2
 The opinion of the Fourth Circuit will serve as binding precedent upon this Court.
Irrespective of the breadth of the Fourth Circuit’s decision on the constitutionality of Virginia’s
marriage law, it will likely impact the outcome of this case by virtue of a possible alteration in
applicable legal standards, addressing directly the State Defendants’ or Plaintiffs’
respective  positions, or even rendering moot the present controversy before the Court. It is anticipated that Plaintiffs will argue that one of their claims for relief, based on the First Amendment challenge to same-sex marriage statutes, differentiates their claim from Bostic, and therefore is not appropriately subject to a stay. While it is true that the First Amendment issues are not likely to be addressed with Bostic, if the Fourth Circuit concludes that the definition of marriage as being a union between one man and one woman is irrational or otherwise unconstitutional, the First Amendment issue posed with the instant matter will be contemporaneously resolved or mooted: same-sex couples will be able to marry and have their marriages civilly recognized. In other words, the First Amendment challenge raised by the instant matter is wholly derivative of the same-sex marriage issue, and no further judicial action on the issue of the First Amendment will be necessary. Any suggestion that the First Amendment claim presented with this claim is not entirely reliant upon the constitutionality of
 North Carolina’s definition of marriage is
misplaced. This Court should refrain from issuing an accelerated opinion in this matter given the possibility that it could soon be overruled, modified,
or ultimately remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Fourth Circuit’s opinion in
Bostic.
2
“Oral Argument Calendar,” U.S. Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit,
http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/calendar/internetcalmay132014ric.pdf.
Case 3:14-cv-00213-RJC-DCK Document 45 Filed 05/27/14 Page 3 of 9

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