The Atlanta Lawyer May 2015 | Page 4

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Atlanta Bar Amicus Brief Policy “ By Jacquelyn H. Saylor The Saylor Law Firm LLP “‘There is widespread consensus among the district courts of the Sixth Circuit as well as other Courts of Appeals that laws such as the Marriage Bans unconstitutionally disadvantage gays and lesbians without any legitimate justification.’” F our Marriage Ban cases on writs of Certiorari from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals were argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on April 28, 2015. 1 In February 2015 the Atlanta Bar Association was asked to sign onto an amicus brief supporting four sets of Petitioners who sued the Governors of Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky and the Director of the Ohio Department of Health due to the “constitutional and statutory bans in those states which prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and prohibit recognition of legally performed marriages in other states (collectively the Marriage Bans.)” 2 James Obergefell was one of the Ohio petitioners who sued the Ohio Health Director when the department did not recognize Obergefell as the lawful husband of John Arthur on Mr. Arthur’s death certificate. The two men, who had been together for two decades, were married in a medical transport plane on the tarmac at an airport in Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legal. Mr. Arthur was 48 when he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. 3 4 THE ATLANTA LAWYER May 2015 Two years earlier, the Atlanta Bar was asked to join on an amicus brief, Hollingsworth v. Perry, resulting from a Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California which limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman. Samesex couples who wished to marry filed suit in federal court and challenged Proposition 8 under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court declared Prop 8 unconstitutional and the Ninth Circuit allowed an appeal by proponents of the ballot initiative. The Bar has had a written Amicus Brief Policy since 2007. There is a procedure for evaluating an amicus brief request. Under the Atlanta Bar Statement of Policy, “any amicus brief filed by or on behalf of the Atlanta Bar … must relate to the practice of law or the administration of justice and be filed only at the appellate level;…” 4 Under the leadership of President Lynn Roberson, the Atlanta Bar Board of Directors voted to support the amicus brief in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case. In June 2013 the U. S. Supreme Court held that the The Official News Publication of the Atlanta Bar Association