On Wednesday, the Court stayed a 4th Circuit ruling that in July struck down Virginia’s gay marriage ban. North Carolina falls under the 4th Circuit’s jurisdiction, meaning the ruling would apply to any challenges of its constitutional ban.
The Court’s decision means a lower court’s ruling that allowed gay marriage is on hold until the Supreme Court upholds or overturns the ruling.
If the Court decides to hear a gay marriage case in the 2014-15 term, justices would have to make all decisions for that term by the end of June .
“Things seem to be lining up for (the Supreme Court) to see a case this term,” said Maxine Eichner, a UNC law professor. .
If the Supreme Court had not put the 4th Circuit’s ruling on hold, the four North Carolina district court cases targeting the state’s ban would have claimed the decision as a precedent, said Eichner.
That legal action would likely have overturned North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, which was passed in 2012.
“This is an important development,” said Eichner. “It means we are waiting longer.”
Mike Meno, spokesman for the N.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU, which filed the first two North Carolina suits, will continue to push for rulings in their cases despite the Supreme Court’s action.