Quick background: a federal judge in Utah recently tossed that state’s same-sex marriage ban (which is, by the way, based off of a state constitutional amendment*); the judge also then refused to put a stay on the decision until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver had a look at it. At that point the screaming reached the point where Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who oversees requests from the 10th Circuit) noticed; the Supreme Court then turned around and instituted said stay on the decision. It now goes to the Court of Appeals’; presumably, it will then proceed to the Supreme Court with all due speed.
I take Ed Morrissey’s position on this:
This may well be a rebuke from the top court to the rest of the federal judiciary about refusing stays for obviously activist decisions. I’m not sure it says anything more than that.
I don’t doubt that Justice Sotomayor is pro-SSM, given that she’s a liberal justice appointed by a Democrat. But there has been mutterings on the Left side of the court for some time now that they are perhaps being expected to cut too many Gordian Knots (and in the process, rattle the cages of all those awful right-wingers who get aggravated at the judiciary doing the legislature’s job**); and smacking down too-eager lower courts is one way to put some brakes on the process. The Tenth Circuit certainly will be seen as an unsubtle hint: I actually expect that the Appeals court will not overturn the decision, but I also expect that the court will put another stay on the decision until the Supreme Court chimes in. Nobody likes to be called incompetent by their superiors in public.
*That is, in fact, very important. I am a same-sex marriage advocate who hates the idea of fighting this out in the courts at the best of times; the courts mucking about with actual state constitutions gives me cold shivers.