Justice Anthony Kennedy blocks same-sex marriage in Idaho

Less than 24 hours after the Ninth Circuit struck down the state's ban on marriage equality, SCOTUS offered a stay

Published October 8, 2014 3:26PM (EDT)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy     (AP/Evan Vucci)
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (AP/Evan Vucci)

Within 24 hours of the Ninth Circuit's ruling in favor of marriage equality, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has already ordered a stay on the lower court's decision, putting a halt to same-sex marriages in Idaho. The state filed a last-minute petition to the Supreme Court shortly after the circuit ruling, which would have required marriage equality in Idaho to become effective immediately.

On Wednesday, Kennedy halted the Ninth Circuit's decision without explanation, ordering a stay "pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court." Idaho has argued that its case against marriage equality is narrower in scope than that of the other same-sex marriage cases the court punted on Monday, which effectively rejected bans on same-sex marriage in five states.

In his analysis at Think Progress, Ian Millhiser notes that Kennedy's stay still doesn't tell us much about the future of a Supreme Court marriage equality showdown, but it does give us a little more insight into what the justices might be thinking:

It is common, when a lower court issues an order that the justices have not had time to fully consider, for a single justice or the full Court to temporarily halt the lower court’s decision until the Supreme Court has had time to examine it. Nevertheless, Wednesday’s order from Justice Kennedy suggests that, whatever the Court intended to accomplish when they denied review in several marriage equality cases on Monday and effectively legalized same-sex marriages in much of the country, they are not yet ready to get out of the way completely and allow equality to flourish in all fifty states.

Justice Kennedy will now have the option to rule on Idaho's petition himself, or to refer it to the full court.


By Jenny Kutner

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