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.
Lyle Denniston of Scotusblog analyzes the decision:
Since the Monday order provided no explanation, it was not clear which of the arguments made by state officials had been convincing to the Justices. The state had argued, among other things, that U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision nullifying Utah’s ban had preempted the power of the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on that question. The state also had contended that its interest in enforcing its ban would have been undercut by a refusal of a stay. And it had said that it would be difficult to untangle marriages that had occurred in the meantime, if the ban were ultimately upheld in the courts.
The state had asked for a delay from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles such emergency requests from the geographic region that includes Utah — that is, the Tenth Circuit. She referred it to the full Court rather than acting alone.
The Court appeared not to have labored over what to do with the request: it acted within a short time after the final written filing had been submitted by state officials, earlier in the day.
As a result of the new order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, based in Denver, will go forward with an expedited review of Judge Shelby’s decision. The appeals court has ordered briefing to begin on January 27 and to be completed by February 25. It has indicated it is not likely to grant any extensions of time to file those documents. It has not yet set a hearing date.
As Denniston reports, this means that it’s unlikely state bans on same-sex marriage to be taken up in this Term.
The Supreme Court wants the appeals court to weigh in before they enter the fray.