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Utah’s historic Kitchen v. Herbert lawsuit seems likely to become the first such appeal to come before the Supreme Court, but rulings expected by the Fourth circuit — on the constitutionality of a same-sex marriage ban in Virginia — and the Sixth Circuit, which will hear arguments in early August, may also be contenders.
It’s not unprecedented for the court to combine cases.
Re-hiring lawyers for Utah
Before the same sex marriage case progresses the state will re-contract outside counsel Gene C. Schaerr, John Bursch and Monte Neil Stewart — whose services have already cost the state $300,000, and are expected to run a similar bill in Utah’s push to the Supreme Court.
In the history-making Brown v. The Board of Education case that desegregated this nation’s schools, five cases were combined from different states and circuits.
"There is a history of justices combining the cases they like most, or the cases in which they want to tackle the reasoning — perhaps they agree with the outcome but not with how the circuit got there," said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who specializes in the federal judiciary. "It’s more likely that the court will wait to see what cases it gets on this issue, and not necessarily jump on the first one — in this case, Utah’s."
SCOTUS Blog, arguably the most well-regarded news site that covers the Supreme Court, issued a prediction earlier this week on Twitter: The U.S. Supreme Court "will act on the Utah [same-sex marriage] petition by late 2014, likely grant it, hear argument in March 2015, and rule (5-4) in June 2015."
It did not say which way the vote would go.
"Everyone seems to be in a big hurry to get to the Supreme Court," Tobias said. "But I don’t think the Supreme Court is in a big hurry to get to Utah’s appeal."
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