ALABAMA: State Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Liberty Counsel’s Marriage Petition

Last last night the Alabama Supreme Court agreed to consider the petition for a writ of mandamus filed on Wednesday by Liberty Counsel.

In a 6-2 decision issued late Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court set up a schedule next week for the different sides to file their answers and briefs on the request by the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program. The court, however, did not say whether it would hold a hearing for oral arguments before responding to the petition. The order stated the briefs by probate judges should address issues raised by the petition, including whether the state Supreme Court even has jurisdiction to hear the petition.

Answers and briefs by probate judges are to be filed by 5 p.m. Feb. 18 and then ALCAP and API will have a chance to respond by 5 p.m. Feb. 20. API and ALCAP, which both oppose gay marriage, on Wednesday filed their emergency petition for a writ of mandamus declaring the state’s ban on same-sex unions is still in force and to halt any probate judge from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

ALCAP and API name those county probate judges who have begun issuing licenses to same-sex couples in response to U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade’s order declaring Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been the most outspoken in advising probate judges not to issue same-sex licenses, was the only justice not listed as taking part in Friday’s decision.

Yesterday a coalition of pro-LGBT groups filed their own petition asking the state Supreme Court to dismiss the Liberty Counsel’s demand.

“This request before the Alabama Supreme Court is nothing but an attempt at delaying the happiness that all families deserve – a last-ditch, failing effort to stand in the way of the love we’ve seen in this historic week,” Ben Cooper, board chair of Equality Alabama, said in a statement released Friday night. “The petition should be dismissed, and all probate judges in every corner of the state should follow the law.” That brief was filed on behalf of Equality Alabama by counsel from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU of Alabama Foundation, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.