News on the federal level may eventually affect same-sex couples in NC.
On Monday, during its first day in session, the Supreme Court declined to hear seven pending appeals from federal appellate courts regarding same-sex marriage. The denials, which came without comment, mean that there is still no declaration at the national level that denial of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. However, by declining to hear the petitions, the Supreme Court effectively upheld federal appellate court rulings from the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals which overturned state laws denying same-sex marriage. As a result, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana have joined the list of states in which same-sex marriage is legal, bringing the total up to thirty states, plus the District of Columbia.
This move will likely affect pending cases challenging North Carolina’s denial of same-sex marriage rights. Among the appeals the Supreme Court declined to hear was Schaefer v. Bostic, a Virginia case from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Since the 4th Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over North Carolina district courts, it is likely that courts hearing the pending North Carolina cases will follow suit by overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban now that Circuit Court precedent has been set.