As requested by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Commonwealth of Virginia has filed its response to a motion by the Clerk of Prince William County to stay the 4th Circuit’s ruling regarding marriage equality.
In its brief, the Commonwealth of Virginia agrees that a stay is warranted because of unintended negative consequences if the Court later rules against marriage equality, and asks the Court to expedite its review of the case by treating the Clerk’s motion as a cross-petition for certiorari, allowing it to consider the Clerk’s arguments alongside Virginia’s petition for certiorari to determine whether to review the case. This would be an unusual but not unprecedented action by the Supreme Court, but the request is appropriate given the importance of the issue.
“Throughout this process we have fought for equality while also recognizing the need for an orderly process,” said Attorney General Herring. “I’ve worked to move the case along quickly and asked the Supreme Court to take this extraordinary step because I don’t want this discriminatory ban to stay in place one day longer than necessary. However, a stay is warranted in light of the negative impact on Virginia children, families, and businesses if the Supreme Court eventually rules against marriage equality and forces an unwinding of Virginians’ marriages, adoptions, inheritances, or workplace benefits.”
As was the case at the district and appellate level, Attorney General Herring’s filing on behalf of State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey says the Commonwealth believes the courts ruled correctly in finding Virginia’s marriage ban unconstitutional, but also believes a stay is warranted until the Supreme Court can definitively resolve the issue.
The Office of Attorney General is working with the Governor’s Office and client state agencies to make reasonable preparations in the event that the Supreme Court does not stay the 4th Circuit’s decision before the order takes effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, August 21. This includes drafting an updated marriage license application through the State Registrar of Vital Records.