Schuette Files to Expedite Appeal in 6th Circuit in Michigan Gay Marriage Case

On April 4th, 2014, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a motion to expedite the appeals process in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Michigan gay marriage case involving named plaintiffs April DeBoer and her wife Jayne Rowse.

On the same day, Bill Schuette's office issued an official announcement stating that 

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he has filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, requesting they bypass an initial panel hearing and instead hold a single “en banc” hearing before the full panel of 15 judges. 

[']My responsibility as Attorney General to defend the Michigan Constitution and the voters’ decision to define marriage is important, and the sooner we reach a final resolution from the courts, the better,['] said Schuette. [']Advancing our case to a hearing before the entire panel of Sixth Circuit judges will move us forward more quickly, and minimize delays in ultimately reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. This move also offers the added benefit of conserving taxpayer resources by shortening the timeline of the litigation.[']

Schuette has filed a formal petition for initial hearing en banc with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. A hearing en banc involves presenting the case to the full court of the 6th Circuit for review, a step traditionally reserved for significant cases. This process is permitted when new decisions conflict with previous rulings, and for questions of [']exceptional importance['] (Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35). 

[']This option is not unprecedented.['] Schuette continued. [']The Sixth Circuit previously granted a similar request for the Grutter case involving the University of Michigan Law School admissions policies.['] The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit granted a request to advance to an en banc hearing prior to a panel hearing in the case Grutter v. Bollinger, which involved University of Michigan Law School admissions  policies. The 6th Circuit also granted a request for en banc consideration in Schuette v. BAMN, when two panels issued conflicting rulings. 

A similar conflict situation is possible again with the four currently pending marriage appeals. Cases challenging state marriage laws are currently scheduled for near simultaneous consideration in three other states within the 6th Circuit: Ohio (Obergefell v. Wymsylo), Kentucky (Love v. Beshear), and Tennessee (Tanco v. Haslam). 

With four states appealing on similar issues, the potential for panels to disagree is likely to result in future en banc hearing requests. Schuette’s request accelerates this process."