NOM's Brown Pretends The Supreme Court Is Secretly On His Side
January 09, 2014 3:00 pm ET by Luke Brinker
National Organization for Marriage (NOM) President Brian Brown misinformed about the U.S. Supreme Court's stay of marriage equality in Utah, falsely suggesting that the court had halted same-sex marriages because Utah voters had approved a ban on marriage equality in 2004.
In a January 8 appearance on The Janet Mefferd Show, Brown praised the High Court for staying District Judge Robert J. Shelby's December ruling that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and due process. Noting that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit had refused to stay same-sex marriages in the state, Brown lauded the "adults" at the Supreme Court for their ostensible affirmation of a 2004 referendum in which Utah voters banned same-sex marriage:
BROWN: Finally some adults came into the room and said judges cannot just do willy-nilly whatever they want to do regardless of the people's vote. ... That is great, great news and I believe it also means that we have some hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will not force same-sex marriage on the entire country.
Despite Brown's assertion, the Court never referred to the 2004 referendum, much less used its results to find that Judge Shelby had wrongly decided in favor of marriage equality. Here, in its entirety, is the wording of the Court's stay:
ORDER IN PENDING CASE
13A687 HERBERT, GOV. OF UT, ET AL. V. KITCHEN, DEREK, ET AL.
The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted. The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Utah, case No. 2:13-cv-217, on December 20, 2013, is stayed pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Legal experts largely believe that the Supreme Court was buying time with its stay, not foreshadowing how it would rule on the constitutionality of Utah's ban. As Yale law professor William N. Eskridge Jr. told The New York Times, "Is it a harbinger of what the Supreme Court will do? ... No, I don't think so." Instead, the Times reported, legal scholars view the Court's stay as evidence of "a preference for orderly litigation that preserves the status quo while appeals proceed."
Given its brevity, it wouldn't have been difficult for Brown to read the language of the Court's stay before baselessly characterizing it. But Brown isn't interested in honestly describing the legal fight for marriage equality in Utah - he's more interested in inventing evidence that his views aren't firmly planted on the wrong side of history.