SCOTUS, Same-Sex Marriage, and Georgia

Some of you may remember Anthony Michael Kreis from his participation here in last year’s RFRA debate. The former political co-chair of the Atlanta Human Rights Campaign, he’s a native Virginian and a Ph.D. candidate at UGA, where he teaches some of this state’s most brilliant and good-looking undergraduates. Here’s his analysis of the implications of this morning’s decision, or lack thereof:

The Supreme Court’s cert denials are nothing short of a major victory for same-sex couples. In the most immediate sense, by refusing to hear appeals from Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Virginia, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in each. In the immediate future, 6 additional states’ bans will also fall: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In a matter of days– if not hours– 60% of Americans will live in same-sex marriage jurisdictions.

While the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the cases has no immediate impact on Georgia, the message could not be more clear. There is virtually no probability that the state can successfully defend the Georgia Constitution’s same-sex marriage ban. It is unfathomable to think the Supreme Court would reverse course given the wide-scale impact of today’s denials. The Supreme Court’s signal should be heeded by Attorney General Olens. Any additional time the Attorney General’s office spends defending the constitutionality of Georgia’s marriage ban is futile. It is waste of taxpayer money. But, worse yet, any delay perpetrates the unconstitutional deprivation of equal rights and dignity Georgia owes to same-sex couples.

Tl;DR: Same-sex marriage will very shortly exist in a majority of states and a majority of constituencies. Some combination of six judges decided against hearing “the big one” in the coming months, meaning there was some combination of liberal and conservative justices (or liberal and slow-moving justices, probably Kennedy and Roberts.) And, for what has to be the first time in anyone’s memory, the bright future of civil rights lies on the east side of the Savannah River.

66 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    Will this issue help or hurt the GOP in the general election in Georgia? Or will both sides ignore it? I think if the GOP goes ugly on this issue it could boomerang on them…..I would suggest to chill out…..

    • Chet Martin says:

      Going ugly on the issue would certainly motivate aspects of the Democratic base to turn out. It’s doubtful it would send as many Republican voters to the poll.

      Regardless, it’s a losing strategy for the future

      • John Konop says:

        It would also turn off many in the middle who have relatives….that are gay….hard left and right would be neutral….It is the swing vote that counts….worth double the vote…..

  2. blakeage80 says:

    Isn’t it AG Olens’ responsibility to defend Georgia’s constitution? He can’t just g0 all Obama and decide parts of it aren’t worth it. The ban hasn’t yet (and I say ‘yet’) been stuck down, so until it is or the Republican legislature changes it, (yeah, right) I expect Olens to defend it. It would set a bad precedent in Georgia if he doesn’t.

    I hate that a few people in black robes can decide everything. I don’t think that’s the way it was intended to be.

      • blakeage80 says:

        Which laws are in question don’t matter. If an AG no longer feels he is able to do his job, then he should resign. What AG Olens should 0r shouldn’t do isn’t a matter of politics, its a matter of an oath. I agree that its only a matter of time before Georgia’s gay marriage ban is struck down, but until it is, Olens decided to defend it when he became the top lawyer in the state.

        • John Konop says:

          So you recommend we spend money to defend a law, even though we know at the end of the day it will not win? HUH? Sounds like a real liberal use of our hard earned tax dollars we pay to the state?

          • gcp says:

            We don’t know if it will or will not stand in Georgia because federal court in Georgia has not yet ruled.

            • John Konop says:

              …….. I agree that its only a matter of time before Georgia’s gay marriage ban is struck down, but until it is,………

              I agree with blackage80 it is only time before the law goes down….as I am sure most rational people agree after the last move by the Supreme Court….The tea leaves are very clear….if you want to open your eyes…By any rational manner it is waste of tax dollars to fight this battle…But hey maybe I am to fiscally conservative…

              • gcp says:

                SCOTUS only clarified the issue in those districts and circuits that ruled on the issue. Georgia is in the 11th appeals. I don’t know how the district and the 11th will rule but until they decide the issue, Ga. law should prevail.

                If the 11th district and circuit here want to redefine marriage let them rule that way but until that time, Ga. law is still in charge.

                  • gcp says:

                    John, if you want to talk fiscal issues, I will do so but this ain’t a fiscal issue; its a legal issue.

                    • John Konop says:

                      gcp,

                      HUH? You get we either have to much staff we are paying for at the AG office or some other work is not getting done? My liberal friend I guess dollars and sense do not matter when you feel you are right….

                    • gcp says:

                      John, can you allow US District Court Judge Duffey to make a ruling and the 11th to make a ruling before you make your ruling? Duffey is assigned the Ga. case.

            • John Konop says:

              blakeage80,

              No my ethics are usually very consistent…do not spend tax payer dollars on high risk return bets….You want to spend your own money fine….But keep your 100 to 1 bets out our pockets…Unless we get past the high risk investment of tax payer dollars why even debate the issue…easy to be righteous when it is not your money!

              • blakeage80 says:

                As a tax payer, (and, yes, I am a net contributor to Georgia’s treasury) it is my money. I pay good money for an AG to do their job and carry out their oath.

                • John Konop says:

                  blakeage80,

                  You have the right to be fiscally liberal…..but by throwing good money after a bad deal….you realize something else will suffer….I would hope more people would support fiscally rational behavior from public officials…you have the GOD given right to support irrational use of tax payer money.

                  • SingingLawyer says:

                    There is no extra taxpayer money being used to defend the case by the AG’s office; it is their staff working the case–outside lawyers aren’t getting paid. Plus, there are other defendants in the case that are local officials that are being defended by other attorneys (the AG’s office only represents the state official defendant).

                    John Konop, you’re always talking about it being a lawyer’s job to defend his client….why is this different? It’s the AG’s job to defend the state.

                    • John Konop says:

                      ………you’re always talking about it being a lawyer’s job to defend his client….why is this different? It’s the AG’s job to defend the state…

                      Because this is being paid by tax dollars not personal/business dollars…If staff is working on this than they are not working on other stuff….also as a lawyer you know…the legal cost go outside just legal council ie depositions, briefs……every page comes a bill….

                    • TheEiger says:

                      With all due respect. And I said with all due respect so I can say whatever I want. How dare you use John Konop’s own words against him. Don’t you know he is always right…

                      John, some of us believe that Olens is doing the right thing. Not sure why it is so hard for you to understand that the AG is the state’s attorney and he defends his client. Client = State of Georgia. Once again, Mr. Konop talking out of both sides of his mouth.

                    • John Konop says:

                      The Eiger,

                      In all due respect you have the right to advocate for fiscally liberal use of tax payer dollars…

                      ……John Konop, you’re always talking about it being a lawyer’s job to defend his client….why is this different? It’s the AG’s job to defend the state…….

                      Once again tax payers are paying for this….but hey I am fiscally conservative….

                    • TheEiger says:

                      John, with all due respect. And I mean with all of the respect in the world. Let’s just try to be a little more consistent with your arguments.

                      You can’t just say “HEY, I’MA FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE MAN…” and then everything after that be nonsense. Do you not see the contradiction in your very own statements? With all due respect that is.

                    • John Konop says:

                      ……. “HEY, I’MA FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE MAN…” and then everything after that be nonsense. Do you not see the contradiction in your very own statements? ……….

                      I am lost, I am advocating not to waste tax payer money and or resources on a case that people who want to sue admit it is a lost cause. You are advocating for the waste of money and or time.And than you equate a person and or business hiring a lawyer to defend themselves….to you advocating tax payers wasting money and or time on a lost cause? I am lost, have no idea what you are spewing about?

                    • TheEiger says:

                      :Face: : Palm:

                      I will walk you through it one more time. You have said on multiple occasions, not just on this thread, that an attorney’s job is to defend their client. Correct? The AG is an attorney. Correct? The attorney for the state of Georgia. Correct? That makes his client the State and it’s constitution. Correct? SOOOOOOO…. As the attorney for the state of Georgia he should be doing exactly what he is doing.

                      Are you just here for the argument again?

                    • John Konop says:

                      …….I will walk you through it one more time. You have said on multiple occasions, not just on this thread, that an attorney’s job is to defend their client. Correct? The AG is an attorney. Correct? The attorney for the state of Georgia. Correct? That makes his client the State and it’s constitution. Correct? SOOOOOOO…. As the attorney for the state of Georgia he should be doing exactly what he is doing….

                      The Eiger,

                      Really this is all you got? Since you have never used a lawyer I will help you understand the relationship. Hypothetically if I was over sensitive, I could go to a lawyer and say I want to sue Eiger because he makes insulting comments to me….The lawyer would say you have no case, and it would be a waste of your money and time. Being fiscally conservative I would not spend my money.

                      I would expect my AG would use the same rational with this case. He knows as many advocates for suing know this is a bad case. If it was his own money he would not use his resources to throw good money after a bad case. Does this help you understand the legal system?

                    • TheEiger says:

                      I’m married to a lawyer. I’m well aware that she is more qualified to speak on what the role of AG is rather than a troll on a political blog that likes to argue for the hell of it. And that was said with all due respect.

                • Chet Martin says:

                  Page 37 here:

                  http://sos.ga.gov/admin/files/Qualification4OfficesGA.pdf

                  There isn’t actually a prescribed oath for the AG, so the officeholder swears the standard issue state oath, just like the Governor.

                  “”I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of Governor of the State of Georgia and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof and the Constitution of the United States.”

                  This leaves one obvious conclusion- if the Attorney General believes some aspect of Georgia’s Constitution violates the United States Constitution, he is within his rights to refuse to defend it.

                  (Side note: did y’all know there’s still a law on the books requiring officeholders to swear they aren’t members of the Communist Party?)

                    • Chet Martin says:

                      Thankfully, the law has been ruled unconstitutional and is no longer enforced. Still upsetting.

                  • SingingLawyer says:

                    So I guess everyone is cool with getting rid of our court system and having the AG decide which laws are enforceable and which are not? Same with amendments to the state constitution that are democratically passed? If he can do it here, he can do it with any law.

                    This is not going to be a costly case; he needs to do the job he was elected to do, regardless of what popular opinion on the merits is.

                    • TheEiger says:

                      So we have John Konop and others on here advocating that Sam Olens act a little more like Eric Holder. I would say that’s the last thing we need in this state.

                    • TheEiger says:

                      Yes, I want my attorney general to do his job. The one that he was elected to do and defend a law that was passed by the legislature. You don’t get to determine what is or isn’t constitutional.

                    • TheEiger says:

                      How is the AG defending a law that was passed by the legislature an entitlement to me? Now you are just being bazzaro. It’s not quite 5 o’clock you know. Hope you aren’t drinking on the clock.

                    • TheEiger says:

                      John, I know you aren’t a lawyer, but the state constitution says, The AG “shall represent the state in the Supreme Court in all capital felonies and in all civil and criminal cases in any court”

                      Do you understand the meaning of “Shall?” It’s pretty simple. Sam doesn’t have a choice. That’s what Shall means.

                      Listen, pride is a bad thing. Sometimes you need to know when you are on the wrong side of an argument. There have been times where I told you on this blog I was flat out wrong and I’m sorry. This is one of those times. You are wrong.

                    • John Konop says:

                      The Eiger,

                      You also saw this on the thread? You can call your wife the lawyer and she can help you understand it.

                      ….“”I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of Governor of the State of Georgia and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution thereof and the Constitution of the United States.”

                      This leaves one obvious conclusion- if the Attorney General believes some aspect of Georgia’s Constitution violates the United States Constitution, he is within his rights to refuse to defend it…..

                    • TheEiger says:

                      Please answer one question John. Just one. What is the meaning of “SHALL?” This is the stuff you learn your first year of law school.

                      Q) What does “Shall” mean?

                      A) What John Konop wants it to mean.
                      B) What Eric Holder wants it to mean.
                      C) Used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory (hint. hint. pick this one)
                      D) Don’t know. Just here to learn how to argue.

                    • John Konop says:

                      ………Please answer one question John. Just one. What is the meaning of “SHALL?” This is the stuff you learn your first year of law school.

                      Q) What does “Shall” mean?………..

                      The Eiger,

                      Your wife the LAWYER will explain that when the courts crack down federally on discrimination via interracial marriage, back of the bus……that the southern states lost their cases…..I realize many like you would advocate fighting it….but it was a waste of money than and now….You might of been sleeping in class during the sections on civil rights movement….

                      You could get out you fire house and spray it in midtown….but do not think you get much support now…

                  • blakeage80 says:

                    Good find, Chet, but as Georgia’s provision hasn’t explicitly been call unconstitutional, does he have the right to predict it will be called thus and not defend it? I don’t think so. I believe his first consideration, as the order of the oath suggests, is to Georgia’s constitution and until it is formally in violation, he must defend it.

                    • SingingLawyer says:

                      blakeage80 is absolutely right.

                      And “advocating we spend tax payer money with the same thought as a drunken sailor on leave”? John, please provide support that defending this lawsuit will cost the state a significant amount of money? The AG’s office defends state officials and state law every day because it’s their job and they have a budget for it. A few deposition transcripts (if the case even gets to that point because it is mostly legal and not factual issues) is a nominal cost.

  3. saltycracker says:

    This is not the end of the drive to expand the definition of marriage. The GOP should position marriage in the realm of religion and stand for individual rights and freedoms in the eyes of government.

    Grandfather in the past entitlements and get out of the way of expanding a privileged group.

    • TheEiger says:

      Why do you not understand that Sam Olens does not have the discretion to pick and choose what he can defend on behalf of the sate. It’s wrong when Eric Holder does it and it would be wrong if Sam Olens were to do it. Under your line of thought, we should just stop defending death penalty appeals because it is a waste of money and let all of the murders and rapist go. Because you know… its a waste of money. Again, you are wrong.

      • John Konop says:

        The Eiger,

        …….we should just stop defending death penalty appeals because it is a waste of money and let all of the murders and rapist go..

        HUH? You think not appealing a death penalty case is the same as letting somebody out of prison for a crime? Dude it guys like you why the GOP is sinking in Georgia….As you waive your confederate flag this state will turn blue because of people like you in the GOP over the next few election. And the only person you have to blame is you.

        • TheEiger says:

          There you go. We are off the tracks. I’m now a confederate flag waiving dummy. This dummy is still asking you what does “shall” mean?

          I really am sorry to be condescending to you, but for too long I’ve read your snarky comments with your condescending “in all due respect” and “do you understand…………” comments. I couldn’t help my self. I’m going to take some of Charlie’s advice and put myself in time out. It’s bourbon time anyway. Oh there I go. Playing into my redneck stars and bars waving stereo type. It’s good bourbon not Jim Beam. So, I’m one of them classy rednecks.

      • Max Power says:

        Sure he does, because he takes an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. In jurisdiction after jurisdiction same sex marriage bans have been found to be unconstitutional so if Olens believes those jurisdictions got it right he has an affirmative duty not to defend the Georgia law. Let me ask you this about your hypothetical, if a convict on death row appealed his conviction and there was new evidence that absolutely proved his innocence, should Olens fight the appeal?

  4. SingingLawyer says:

    John–the lawsuit is not a “fishing expedition”. They are defending a state official who was sued for civil rights violations. It’s irrelevant what they think of the merits of the case–it’s their job to defend. They don’t get to do a cost analysis of whether the benefits of defending are worth the cost. Now I’m done banging my head against the wall with you and your non sequiturs.

  5. Charlie says:

    Hey, most of y’all up above:

    A little less name calling, a little more constructive discussion.

    “Don’t make me have to turn this car around!”

  6. NoTeabagging says:

    Interesting discussion. The question in my mind is, “When do legislators repeal something that clearly is going to waste a lot of money in the near future?’

  7. If we wanted an attorney general to mindlessly defend every state law then we should construct a robot to do the job instead of having the voters elect someone. The bottom line is that the AG answers to the voters who have elected him or her because they believe that person to be the most capable legal mind that offered for the job.

    The idea that Olens should sacrifice himself at the altar of a bunch of wannabe Hardwick v Bowers Part Deux fanboy dreams is, to me, ridiculous. The SCOTUS situation has been pretty clear – it hasn’t once let a ban stay in place.

    If anyone on here has the magical bullet that will make gay marriage bans survive Constitutional scrutiny, please let the rest of us know. If not, aren’t there like literally 1,000,000 better issues that Olens/the Republican party could associate themselves with?

  8. xdog says:

    If you believe the US Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court trumps state constitutions, then today’s affirmation of lower courts’ rulings settles matters. Olens should pack his tent. To do otherwise would be a waste of time and money, with only a (very doubtful) political payoff at the end. Save it for the party conventions.

Comments are closed.