Monday, October 06, 2014

The last hold out

So the Supreme Court is going to let gay marriage get legalized on a state-by-state basis. I was looking at the map and wondering which would be the last no-same-sex state to fall. Given the overwhelming trend in the courts, I assume all the states where appeals to a same sex marriage ban are pending will legalize gay marriage soon. That would bring gay marriage to ID, TX, FL, AK, TN, KY, OH, and MI. That would leave just 12 states with a gay marriage ban: AK, MT, NV, AZ, ND, SD, NE, MO, LA, MS, AL, and GA.

When I look at the map, it looks like the 5th Circuit (which includes TX, MS, and LA) and the 11th Circuit (which includes FL, GA, and AL) has lagged a bit in terms of addressing the issue. Both have conservative reputations (in fact, they used to be the same circuit). Right now, however, the 5th Circuit is probably a bit more conservative than the 11th. It is one of the few Circuit Courts that still has a majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents (including senior judges, the split is 15-8, in favor of Republican appointees). Thanks to the end of the judicial filibuster, the 11th now has a 10-9 Democratic appointees majority. That does not necessarily determine the issue when it comes to gay marriage. Republican appointees as well as Democratic appointees have ruled in favor of marriage equality over the past year. But the very few judges who have gone the other way have all been GOP nominees. So the odds are simply greater that a case in the 5th Circuit is going to end up in front of some conservative judges. If I scratch off Texas (because the appeal is pending and I am assuming they all go with the gays), that leaves only Louisiana and Mississippi. Based on almost pure stereotype, I will guess that a judge in MS is a little less likely to permit gay marriage than a judge in New Orleans.

This methodology is crap, by the way. I have not counted District Court judges, who could legalize gay marriage in a state before it gets appealed to a circuit court. And if I really think that the remaining courts are going to follow the great majority of decisions so far, what matters more is the current timeline of each lawsuit than where the court happens to sit.

By who cares about my crappy methodology. By the power vested in me, I hereby predict that Mississippi will be the last state in the union to legalize gay marriage.

UPDATE: Reading this made me realize that I didn't consider the 6th Circuit. That court wasn't known for its conservatism when I was in law school, but thanks to W's court packing, now has an even more lopsided conservative slant than the 5th Circuit (it is currently 18 Republican appointees to 9 Democrats, including senior judges). None of the states in the 6th Circuit (MI, OH, KY, and TN) currently allow gay marriage, even after today's Supreme Court non-decision. So one of those four probably has a good shot at being the last opposite marriage only state. Nevertheless, the official Noz prediction is sticking with Mississippi.