Attorneys for plaintiffs in the case that resulted in Judge Chris Piazza’s order striking down the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage have objected to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s request for a second round of oral arguments in the case.
Rutledge asked the Arkansas Supreme Court last week for a second round of oral arguments because the composition of the Supreme Court has changed since arguments were held on an expedited basis Nov. 19. There’s been no explanation from the court on why no decision has been forthcoming.
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Attorneys Cheryl Maples and Jack Wagoner argue that the request for a delay is “unprecedented” and “would further delay” a case in which the Supreme Court previously found reason to expedite.
Rutledge had said that Chief Justice Jim Hannah wasn’t present. But the response notes that this was announced at the time, as well as the fact that Hannah would watch the recording of the proceeding and participate in the decision. Rutledge also said Justices Robin Wynne and Rhonda Wood, who took office Jan. 1, should decide the case. Wood would replace Special Justice Robert McCorkindale, appointed for the recused Cliff Hoofman, and Wynne would replace retired Justice Donald Corbin.
The plaintiffs said McCorkindale was appointed by the governor for “this specific case” and Rutledge had cited no precedent for him to be replaced. To remove him would contradict the order of the governor. When no rule or statute applies to a circumstance, past practice should apply, the plaintiffs said. Here, there is no “existing practice” for a second round of arguments.
“…the case should be decided by the justices who participated in the case. Additional arguments should not be allowed.”
The motion opens by noting that marriage equality prevailed in 13 states when the suit was filed and the number has now reached 36. “Unlike 70 percent of the citizens of the United States, plaintiff-appellees reside in a state that continues to deny them their constitutional rights, even though the Arkansas Constitution provides greater protection of those rights than does the United States. They cannot afford further delay.”