New Jersey Withdraws Appeal Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
And New Jersey makes fourteen, officially.
Just hours after same-sex marriage became legal in the state, an occasion marked by midnight weddings in several cities, Governor Chris Christie’s office has announced that the Administration has withdrawn its appeal of last month’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage:
Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he was dropping the fight against same-sex marriage in New Jersey by withdrawing his his appeal of a major case that was being heard by the state Supreme Court.
Across the state, gay couples have been getting married today for the first time in New Jersey after the Supreme Court refused on Friday to delay the first weddings while it heard Christie’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that legalized gay marriage last month.
Christie said the court, in rejecting his plea for a stay, had made strong statements that settled the larger case.
Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie, said that Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, writing for the court in a 7-0 opinion last Friday, “left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.’ ”
But at the same time, Christie sharply criticized the court for stepping in and ruling on the case. The Republican governor, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has maintained that he wanted voters to take up the issue on the ballot.
“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” Reed said. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
As I noted on Friday when the Supreme Court’s ruling came out, the tone of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Administration’s request for a stay made it clear where they stood on the merits of the case, and rather obvious what the ultimate outcome of the case would be. In some sense, pursuing the appeal any further would’ve been little more than a waste of resources. For that reason alone, it’s not surprising that Christie would make the decision to withdraw the appeal at this point. Politically, it has the advantage of him being able to say that he put up the fight in defense of existing law but decided to back away when it became evident that appeal would ultimately be unsuccessful. It also has the advantage of putting the same-sex marriage issue behind him, at least in New Jersey. On the national level, assuming he does run in 2016, he can tell the right that he put up the fight and that he supports the idea of letting the states decide the issue themselves. Because, of course, if this issue is decided nationally it will happen at the Supreme Court of the United States, and quite possibly before the 2016 election.
Legally, this means that New Jersey is now officially the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage. With the appeal dropped, the case is now moot and the rulings from the trial court and the Supreme Court are the law of the land in the state. Now, I guess, we move on to wondering which state will be number fifteen.