An interesting but easily-overlooked new development in the same-sex marriage case currently being considered by the Arkansas Supreme Court: the case now shows as “submitted,” on the court docket and in electronic filings. While a spokesperson for the court said that the use of the term has little significance and gives no hint as to when the court might issue an official ruling in the matter, another source with direct knowledge of the procedures of the court said that it likely means the court has voted and an opinion is forthcoming soon. That source says we could see a ruling next Thursday, which might put the Arkansas Supreme Court ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.
The U.S. Supreme Court has two remaining decision days scheduled (though it could add more): Monday, June 22 and Monday, June 29.
If you visit the CourtConnect page for the case and scroll all the way to the bottom, the case — No. CV-14-427 — shows as having been submitted at 10:53 a.m. on June 10. That’s the first action in the case since May 28, when a motion for lifting the stay on Judge Chris Piazza’s original decision striking down the prohibition on same-sex marriage was denied by the court. The case also shows under the heading of “cases submitted” on the last page of the court’s most recent syllabus, with the notation of “Proceedings of June 10”: .
Arkansas Supreme Court Clerk of Courts Stacey Pectol, who has served as the spokesperson for the court since the unexpected firing of Supreme Court communications counsel Stephanie Harris last month, said that there is little significance to the use of the term “submitted,” with Pectol saying the term denotes “when [a case] officially goes before the court for its consideration.”
“I don’t think you can read anything into that at all,” Pectol said. “It just means it is before the court for their consideration, and they will render a decision when they have one that they believe is well reasoned and complete. That’s their determination. I’m not involved in that process at all.” Asked if the case showing up as “submitted” might give a hint as to when an decision might be expected, Pectol said it did not.
However, in talking to a source with direct knowledge of the procedures of the Arkansas Supreme Court who prefers to remain nameless, the Times was told that there is indeed significance to the use of the word “submitted.” The source said the appearance of “submitted” generally means the court has voted and that an opinion is in the process of being drafted.
The court’s spring term ends at the end of June, with the court on recess until late August, when the new term begins.
“Actually next week is their last day [before the recess],” the source said. “I would look for something by next Thursday. I think we’ll probably see something. If I had to bet on it, I would bet that we’ll see an opinion on the 25th.”