How a 3-judge panel of the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in six cases challenging gay
marriage bans in 4 states is difficult to predict.
The judges on Wednesday will hear oral
arguments in cases challenging marriage bans in Kentucky (2 cases),
Michigan, Ohio (2 cases) and Tennessee – the most marriage cases
that any federal circuit court has ever heard in a single day.
The Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit is
the third appeals court to review challenges to state bans since the
U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year striking down a key provision
of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which led to the federal
government recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.
Two out of the three judges are George
W. Bush nominees – Jeffrey S. Sutton and Deborah L. Cook – while
Martha Craig Daughtrey was nominated by Bill Clinton.
Sutton in 2011 shocked Republicans when
he sided with the majority in a ruling that upheld the Obama
administration's Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In comments to the
AP, Mark Tushnet, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, said
Sutton could again be the deciding vote.
“This is the kind of thing where you
could see the conservative with a libertarian bent coming out in
favor of gay marriage, but who knows?” he said. “Having done
Obamacare and maybe screwed his own chances for the Supreme Court,
Sutton may feel liberated to do what he thinks is the right thing and
go for marriage equality, or he may try to rehabilitate himself and
go against it.”
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the
University of Richmond, said, given Sutton's unpredictability, that
he could see the court ruling in either direction.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on
headline a Cincinnati rally in support of marriage equality.
call for 4 days of prayer to ask 6th
Circuit to uphold marriage bans in 4 states.)