Thursday a three judge panel in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case defending Oklahoma’s law banning same sex marriage. These are the same judges who heard an appeal defending Utah’s Amendment 3 last week. Both laws were struck down by federal district court judges several months ago. Now that the Tenth Circuit Judges have heard both the Utah and Oklahoma cases, they’re expected to render a single decision that would apply to both laws. Carl Tobias is a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond. He says a decision could be written and handed down soon.
“The court has expedited everything so far, so I would expect them to continue and have this same panel of judges who heard the two cases try to write the opinions as soon as possible. If it is expedited it could be as soon as a month and probably no longer than three months. So my guess is this summer at the latest,” says Tobias.
Seventeen days after Federal District Court Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s same sex marriage law, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed his decision. Legal scholars expect that stay will remain intact when the Tenth Circuit hands down a decision because the losing side will likely appeal immediately. Justices on the high court could wait until similar federal court decisions are handed down in cases that involve Virginia, Michigan and Texas before deciding what cases would be heard by the Supreme Court.