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New Jersey marriage decision Wednesday:

So says the state supreme court's media notices page. Expect a decision at 3 p.m. Eastern.

UPDATE: The oral argument, from last February, is available for viewing here.

Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka (www):
You would think they would wait untill after the election to announce the ruling. This isn't going to help Bob Menendez alot.
10.24.2006 10:08pm
Constantin:
That probably means the decision isn't friendly to gay marriage. I can't believe it would come down otherwise, from this court especially, considering the political implications.
10.24.2006 11:31pm
Michael_The_Rock:
According to Hotline, the reason is the retirement of the chief justice on Thursday. If they don't rule, they have to hear the case again.

HT: redlightgrnlight at Redstate
10.24.2006 11:42pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Who cares what a bunch of New Jersey judges think? I'm sure they plan on inventing a constitutional right, which is why they are announcing it in advance.
10.25.2006 12:28am
Kovarsky (mail):
Brian,

I'm not familiar with the specifics of the New Jersey litigation, but keep in mind that many of these cases turn on what the state constitution says, not the federal one.
10.25.2006 12:52am
PaulV (mail):
Karl Rove is behind this
10.25.2006 1:37am
Lev:
Being as it is NJ, they will probably outlaw marriage.
10.25.2006 3:13am
Kovarsky (mail):
Best onion headline ever:

Gay man tearfully admits status as governor of new jersey
10.25.2006 3:27am
Mongoose388:
1) Bob Memendez would have to kill another Democrat in order not to be elected to the Senate from Democrat controlled New Jersey.
2) New Jersey Judges are as Liberal and partisan as you can find anywhere.
3) Several of the Judges were appointed by former govenor and gay American, James McGreavey. If this isn't near unanimous I'll be surprised. No one in NJ cares either way.
10.25.2006 10:34am
Houston Lawyer:
Does anyone know how easy or difficult it is to amend the New Jersey constitution? I know that it is particularly difficult to amend the Massachusetts constitution.

Has the Massachusetts legislature ever amended the State's marriage laws to take into account the court's directive?
10.25.2006 11:04am
Colin (mail):
Michael, I thought I'd read somewhere that observers had revised their opinion as to whether this has to come out before the Chief's retirement. But now I can't remember where I saw that, so take it for what it's worth.

Mongoose, the concern is not over what New Jersey voters will think. It's that the right will turn this into a "librul Judges are going to make you all gay" scare tactic in other, closer races.
10.25.2006 11:19am
Bored Lawyer:

1) Bob Memendez would have to kill another Democrat in order not to be elected to the Senate from Democrat controlled New Jersey.
2) New Jersey Judges are as Liberal and partisan as you can find anywhere.
3) Several of the Judges were appointed by former govenor and gay American, James McGreavey. If this isn't near unanimous I'll be surprised. No one in NJ cares either way.


1. Actually the race is rather close, owing mostly to Menendez's corruption issues.

2. The Appellate Division upheld the limitation of marriage to man/woman, and indicated that it was an issue for the Legislature. Sounds like a conservative result to me.

3. Well, the appointments were before McGreevy "came out of the closet." True, the NJ Sup Ct. tends to be very political, but that cuts both ways here.
10.25.2006 11:32am
Steve:
Several of the Judges were appointed by former govenor and gay American, James McGreavey. If this isn't near unanimous I'll be surprised. No one in NJ cares either way.

And if they were appointed by a Jew governor, they'd make Jewy rulings, right?

If the ruling comes out in favor of same-sex marriage, expect to see a lot more of this conspiracy-mongering in the weeks ahead. "McGreevey secretly appointed judges who would advance the Gay Agenda!"
10.25.2006 11:47am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Are NJ judges elected or appointed? Any up for re-election this fall?
10.25.2006 12:02pm
Dale Carpenter (mail):
The process for amending the New Jersey state constitution can be found here.

The short of it is that it takes either (1) a 3/5 vote in each of the state houses, followed by a majority vote of the people, or (2) a majority vote of both houses in two consecutive legislative years, followed by a majority vote of the people. In other words, New Jersey is in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to the ease or difficulty of amending the state constitution. Harder than some, easier than others.
10.25.2006 12:02pm
j..:
"Jewy rulings" will now be my future judicial campaign slogan.
10.25.2006 12:12pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Houston Lawyer:

Re; The status of a constitutional amendment regarding gay marriage in Massachusetts:

The Massachusetts constitutional convention -- in one of those brilliant &heroic moves that have gained Mass pols the admiration of their fellow swine around the country -- voted to adjourn and then reconvene just after the November elections before considering the final issue on their agenda: a referendum giving voters the privilege of accepting or rejecting an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution that would define marriage as being just between a man and a woman.

Homosexual activists regard this as a major victory: If there had been political consequences, the referendum issue would have easily been approved at the convention. The convention vote after the election is far less clear: Throughout my life the dimocrat legislature in Massachusetts has succesfully relied on the limited memory and brain capacity of dimocrat voters in the Commonwealth to get away with all kinds of obscene shennanigans.

After the referendum, if the amendment is approved by voters, it still needs to be accepted by two consecutive sessions of the General Court (the Commonwealth's legislative body) before final adoption. It speaks a great deal of the true public sentiment on this issue in Massachusssets that homosexual acxtivists are so anxious to stop this process as early as possible and by any means neccessary.

By the way, a constitutional convention in Massachusetts is not the dignified process one might expect. It is hardly more than a special session of the General Court devoted to considering amendments to the Commonwealth's constitution. This document has been amended up the wazoo and new amendments are constantly being added. There have been literally scores of constitutional conventions in my lifetime. The fundamental problem--that a new constitution is badly neeced -- has not and probably never will be addressed.
10.25.2006 12:17pm
Rich B. (mail):
As a married New Jersey resident, I hope the decision doesn't require me to divorce my wife and marry another man. I would find that to be an offensively activist decision.

Short of that, New Jersey already has almost all the benefits of gay marriage in their civil union laws. We New Jerseyans won't care either way.
10.25.2006 12:26pm
j..:
I'm not sure if any of that answered the actual question from Houston Lawyer (I think, by the way, the answer is "no" - the same Chapter 207 applies to same or opposite sex marriage), but in all events, there will be a ballot question re same-sex marriage on the 2008 Mass ballot.
10.25.2006 12:32pm
Bigbob:
there's no guarantee an antigay ballot measure will be on the 2008 massachusetts ballot. looks likely, yes, but it could be blocked in various procedural ways.

re new jersey, i'm pessimistic (i'm pro-equal-rights), because it would make no sense to issue a pro-gay decision right before the election. i know that the chief is retiring, but under NJ court rules, a judge can vote in a case that is submitted when she is on the court, even if she is gone when the decision is made public. thats what the NYT says anyway
10.25.2006 12:48pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Appsocres: Just so you know, I was skeptical at "swine" and stopped reading at "dimocrats." You're better than that.
10.25.2006 1:02pm
j..:
You are right. I should have written that it will be before the GC to be on the 2008 ballot (but that the AG and the courts have already cleared that). (Also, b/c I was not clear, I don't think ch. 207 has been changed since same-sex marriage has been in practice.)
10.25.2006 1:05pm
Bored Lawyer:
"Jewy rulings"

Are these written in English or Hebe-onics?
10.25.2006 1:41pm
mike:
Bored Lawyer: limiting a marriage to a man and woman is not a "conservative result." it's a moderate, reasonable result. the opposite conclusion is a radically far left result.
10.25.2006 1:42pm
Bigbob:
mike - i think you should look up the definition of "conservative"
10.25.2006 2:09pm
Bored Lawyer:
Mike -- I actually was referencing another part of the Appellate Division's decision -- that the issue is one which should be left to the Legislature. That fits well with conservative ideas of judicial restraint.

BUT note one thing. Leaving it to the Legislature might not get you the result you want. Same-sex marriage could well pass in a place like New Jersey -- perhaps not today, but maybe in 10 or 20 years.
10.25.2006 2:13pm
Le Messurier (mail):
Bigbob

i think you should look up the definition of "conservative"

I think we all know what he meant, but if definitions are to be black and white then let every liberal stand shoulder to shoulder with Frederick A. Heyak.
10.25.2006 2:32pm
private defender:
To whomever asked: New Jersey judges are not elected. They are similar to their federal counterparts -- nominated by the governor, and approved by the legislature. Supreme Court justices are given 7 years terms, and then have to be renominated. Mandatory retirement age is 70. There has always been a "gentleman's agreement" to replace Republicans with Republicans, and Democrats with Democrats. Therefore, there is always a 4-3 balance on the court. Right now, there are 4 Dems and 3 Repubs, with Chief Justice Poritz a Republican. Her replacement as Chief will be James Zazzali, a Dem who is currently an Associate Justice. His replacement will be Helen Hoens, a Republican.

Nearly all of their decisions are unanimous, which is a credit to Justice Poritz, IMO, and shows a lack of overt partisanship in their decision-making. They try not to overreach into the Legislative domain on non-controversial issues, let alone controversial ones. Therefore, I see very little chance that they will rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

Anyhow, after that tutorial, my prediction is
10.25.2006 2:53pm
mike:
Bored Lawyer: got it. still, it's a shame that leaving this social choice to the machinery of popular sovreignty would be considered conservative. (and, for what it's worth, the result i want is simply that--a decision by the legislature. if the decision is to allow gay marriage, i'm fine with it)
10.25.2006 3:02pm
Greg D (mail):
I just checked the site, and nothing is listed for tomorrow from the Supreme Court.
10.25.2006 3:04pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Thanks a lot, Private Defender.
10.25.2006 3:24pm
Greg D (mail):
Duh, that would be because everyone saying "tomorrow" was saying it Tuesday. :-(

Ah, well, as someone hoping for a Republican victory in the election, I'm hoping the NJ Supreme Court has decided to invent that new "right" to homosexual marriage (you know, the one that 5000+ years of recorded history seems to have missed before now). Such a ruling would just about guarantee solid Republican control over the House and Senate.

We'll see.
10.25.2006 3:25pm
VFBVFB (mail):
--- Such a ruling would just about guarantee solid Republican control over the House and Senate. ---

I will differ with you on that. While such a ruling will help the Republicans, the effect of the Massachusetts ruling was much greater than this one will be. This is because the Massachusetts case was the first such ruling, and so it generated much more media attention, and shock among social conservatives. Because gay marriage as an issue has been around a few years, it will not have as much impact.
10.25.2006 3:32pm
Bigbob:
greg d
- let me point out that women's equality is also entirely untraditional, was unheard of for hundreds if not thousands of years in western culture. oh yes, and the constitution does not refer to women's equality in the 14th amendment, just equal protection. (yes i'm aware of the 19th amendment but that's just voting). if "equal protection" protects women, why not gays?
cheers
10.25.2006 3:38pm
Former NJ Supreme Court Clerk (mail):
With regard to the Chief's retirement: the first Justice I clerked for retired during the term, but kept participating in conferences and opinion-writing on the cases from before hir (that's deliberate, not a typo) retirement, until all the cases heard before hir were resolved. I can't remember whether any of the opinions were assigned to hir, nor whether any was 4-3. I therefore doubt that they need to get this done before the Chief retires. I claim no knowledge of the rules, however, only my own experience.
10.25.2006 3:39pm
BobNSF (mail):
If a positive outcome in NJ drives "values voters" to the polls in all those states that already have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, what does that say about those voters and their "values"?
10.25.2006 3:40pm
private defender:
4-3 decision.

Majority: Rights attendant to marriage are fundamental. 180 days for Legislature to give those rights to gays. Whether to call it "marriage" or "civil unions" is a matter for the legislature.

Dissent: Full marriage rights now.
10.25.2006 4:09pm
Omar Bradley (mail):
what a cop out by the NJSC.

Not as bad as the MA decision, though. i bet they did this because because they knew going with the dissent would hand Kean the Seante seat so they compromised so they cant be portrayed as 100% activist, just 50%.
10.25.2006 4:21pm
Roger:
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today that the state Constitution entitles same-sex couples to all the legal benefits of marriage, but by another name.

The high court adopted an approach similar to that taken by the Vermont Supreme Court in 1999, which ruled lawmakers can reserve the term "marriage" for the union of one man and one woman, but must grant all couples equal legal protections. Vermont lawmakers responded by allowing same-sex couples to form "civil unions."


nj.com

I hope all those who were very, very wrong will apologize now.
10.25.2006 4:23pm
Greg D (mail):
> MA ruling more impact than NJ one

Disagree. The recent direction in Court rulings was against imposing homosexual marriage. This was letting people say "look, you don't need those anti-gay marraige laws / amendments." Reversing that trend kills that argument. Reversing the trend two weeks before the election means we're going to see a lot of ads about judges, and appointing good ones.

That helps the Republicans, because a strong majority of Americans don't want judges running their lives.
10.25.2006 4:25pm
Greg D (mail):
If a positive outcome in NJ drives "values voters" to the polls in all those states that already have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, what does that say about those voters and their "values"?

It says they want Senators who will vote for judges who sahre their values.
10.25.2006 4:27pm
Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka (www):
Shrewd political move by the Courts.
10.25.2006 4:28pm
Greg D (mail):
let me point out that women's equality is also entirely untraditional, was unheard of for hundreds if not thousands of years in western culture. oh yes, and the constitution does not refer to women's equality in the 14th amendment, just equal protection. (yes i'm aware of the 19th amendment but that's just voting). if "equal protection" protects women, why not gays?

The 14th doesn't guarantee women "equality". That's why we had the 19th Amendment, and that's why we had the ERA (which, you will note, failed).
10.25.2006 4:30pm
Still Learning:
Karl Rove strikes again! Look for Republican gains in the next week.
10.25.2006 4:30pm
Greg D (mail):
It's 3:30 PM Eastern Time, and Yahoo still doesn't have any coverage, while the NJ website says "The requested object does not exist on this server. The link you followed is either outdated, inaccurate, or the server has been instructed not to let you have it."

What gives? Where are the rest of you getting your info?
10.25.2006 4:32pm
Anon. Coward:
Greg: I wasn't aware that the NJ supreme court required heterosexuals to marry others of their sex. Do explain how requring that the state give equal rights and protection to gays somehow turns into 'judges running their [heterosexuals'] lives'.
10.25.2006 4:33pm
lucia (mail) (www):
From the Chicago Tribune.

Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

By GEOFF MULVIHILL
Associated Press Writer
Published October 25, 2006, 2:24 PM CDT

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey's Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.
10.25.2006 4:33pm
Omar Bradley (mail):
Great point Greg D,

Look at Bradwell v Illinois and Minor v Happersett and some case in the 1940s about owning a bar in MI, and you'll see that the EPC doesn't apply to gender discrimnation, at least beyond a low level rational basis test.

and the Justices in the Bradwell and Minor casess knew more about the 14th amendmentg than any of us do. They were alive when it was ratified and debated, they knew the how it was understood.
10.25.2006 4:34pm
A.S.:
What gives? Where are the rest of you getting your info?

How Appealing. Link is on the VC home page.

I don't understand the thought that the decision would benefit Kean. Polls indicate that NJ is for gay marriage. Moreover, is there a difference between Kean and Menendez on the issue?
10.25.2006 4:36pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Apologize for what, roger? For guessing wrong? And considering it was probably going to go one way or the other, how can one be "very, very wrong?"
10.25.2006 4:41pm
Omar Bradley (mail):
its not that it helps kean as much as it just further energizes conservatives in other states to keep the senate to get that 5th conservative on the SC. this helps guys like Allen, Corker, Talent, Dewine, Burns
10.25.2006 4:42pm
Bryan DB:
You can get the information from the NJ Supreme Court opinions page.

Regarding the "copout" (by Omar) and "shrewd" (by Yarmulke) comments above: the stage was set for this decision at the appellate level. Read the first couple pages of the opinion: you'll note that the trial level said a flat "no" to the marriage issue, as did the appeals court. however, at the appellate level, the concurring judge said (essentially): it's not just a marriage issue; there are two things going on, marriage and benefits of marriage. The NJ Supreme Court followed along with that logic, with predictable results. I can't imagine a court anywhere in the country denying the (statutorily-created) benefits of marriage to a same-sex couple.
10.25.2006 4:44pm
BobNSF (mail):
There's a typo (or there was) in the link on the NJ Court website;

link

little "a" instead of capital "A"
10.25.2006 4:44pm
Greg D (mail):
Each seeks to marry his or her partner and to enjoy the legal, financial, and social benefits that marriage
affords.


Two questions:

1: What makes anyone think that a court can, let alone should, tell people that they have to give gay "marriages" the same respect they show for heterosexual ones?

2: Societies survive because families produce and raise kids who go on to be productive members of society. Thus we value marriage.

3: Marraiges work when the members are focused on their partnership. They fail when it's "all about me."

Is there a more reasonable way to read the quoted sentence other than "it's all about me! Gimmie, gimmie!"?
10.25.2006 4:44pm
Bryan DB:
Greg D,
Don't be myopic: a social benefit of marriage might be being able to tell someone "This is the love of my life, and we're married." Gays are part of society, so yes there is a more reasonable way to read that sentence.
10.25.2006 4:47pm
Greg D (mail):
If NJ is for Gay Marriage, why are its supporters screwing around with the courts, when they can just get the Legislature to vote for it, and the Governor to sign it?

IOW, if those polls exist, I don't believe them, and neither do the gay marriage advocates.

Also, while Democrats tend to claim to oppose Gay Marriage (esp. when they're in tight races), few people believe them, and even fewer believe those Democrats favor the kind of Judges / "Justices" who won't want to impose homosexual marriage on the rest of us.
10.25.2006 4:47pm
Alex R:
Omar Bradley and Greg D -- the decision was based on the Equal Protection clause of the NJ State Constitution, not on the 14th amendment. I don't know anything about how NJ courts have construed the NJ State Constitution's equal protection clause, but Federal 14th Amendment jurisprudence has little relevance.
10.25.2006 4:48pm
VFBVFB (mail):
--- I don't understand the thought that the decision would benefit Kean. Polls indicate that NJ is for gay marriage. ---

The thought is that it helps the Republicans nationally, not Kean in particular. New Jersey is a true blue state. If Menendez loses, which is a real possibility it will be because he is the product of a very corrupt Democratic party machine. They don't call New Jersey Louisiana North for nothing.
10.25.2006 4:49pm
Rich B. (mail):

As a married New Jersey resident, I hope the decision doesn't require me to divorce my wife and marry another man.


Phew. I sure dodged a bullet there!
10.25.2006 4:52pm
BobNSF (mail):
This is a sea change. The DISSENT is for full marriage, called marriage, now. The majority would allow for fully equal civil unions. That's the conservative, GOP majority for those of you hoping for something anti-gay out of the right wing...
10.25.2006 4:53pm
Greg D (mail):
Don't be myopic: a social benefit of marriage might be being able to tell someone "This is the love of my life, and we're married."

If he / she is "the love of your life", why does it matter if you're married? Do you think that the ~70% of Americans who don't believe in homosexual marriage are going to consider "your" gay partner to really be your spouse, just because 4 - 5 members of a Court said you could get "married"? Further, should they care? If so, why?

Gays are part of society, so yes there is a more reasonable way to read that sentence.

Lots of people are members of society. So?
10.25.2006 4:53pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"a social benefit of marriage might be being able to tell someone 'This is the love of my life, and we're married.'"

They have that benefit already. They can get married in any church that will perform the ceremony in any state in the union. They can also tell people whatever they like.

The benefit comes from acceptance, and you can't force that with a court opinion.

Frankly, I think "social" was just thrown in there because saying people "seek to get married for legal and financial benefits" sounds a little cold. I don't think it means anything.
10.25.2006 4:56pm
Greg D (mail):
Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose.

So, encouraging people to have children, and raise them in diverse households that provide both male and female role models, is not a "legitimate governmental purpose."

The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same- sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

Boy, how generous of the Court. So nice to think they believe something should be decided democratically, instead of by judicial fiat.
10.25.2006 4:59pm
Greg D (mail):
"rewriting the laws to suit their own personal preferences, rather than the decisions of We The People" == ""running the lives of We The People", for a significant enough definition of the later.
10.25.2006 5:04pm
Greg D (mail):
From the Chicago Tribune.

Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage


Same from Instapundit. If that's how it's generally covered, the Republicans are going to win big from this.

I wonder what's going to happen in NJ Legislature races. We've got two weeks of campaigning, and candidates are going to have to say whether they favor gay marriage, civil unions, or whatever.
10.25.2006 5:08pm
Greg D (mail):
Last post on this subject, for at least a while:

Anyone know of any anti-gay marriage amendment that was in a tight race / losing? I'll bet $5 (if I was still playing w/ TradeSports I'd bet a hell of a lot more than that) that every single "no gay marriage" proposition / amendment / whatever on the November Ballot, none by less than 10% (i.e. 55 - 45 or better).
10.25.2006 5:11pm
BobNSF (mail):

I wonder what's going to happen in NJ Legislature races. We've got two weeks of campaigning, and candidates are going to have to say whether they favor gay marriage, civil unions, or whatever.


Yes, and with support for same-sex marriage polling at over 50% in NJ and support for fully equal civil unions polling at over 70%, how many GOP candidates do you imagine will push for "give them NOTHING!"?
10.25.2006 5:12pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Lately, I've been thinking about the whole gay marriage thing and getting more and more convinced that the privileges and benefits we provide to opposite sex couples are unwarranted and unfair - to EVERYONE.

I'm very seriously starting to question whether those privileges and benefits ought to be reviewed and potentially revoked.
10.25.2006 9:47pm