back to top

Michigan Asks For Full Appeals Court To Hear Challenge To Marriage Amendment

"This case presents a question of exceptional importance."

Posted on
Rebecca Cook / Reuters

Jim Schaffer (L) and his partner Jason McIntosh stand in line with their adopted baby Norah as they wait in line for a marriage license at the Oakland County Courthouse, after a Michigan federal judge ruled a ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and must be overturnedn in Pontiac, Michigan March 22, 2014.

WASHINGTON — The Michigan attorney general wants all 16 active judges of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear its appeal defending the state's ban on same-sex couples' marriages.

Normally, a three-judge panel would hear the appeal, with the losing party then having the option to have the whole appeals court reconsider the appeal — a process called an en banc rehearing.

On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote, "The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure expressly recognize that some cases are so significant that they warrant initial hearing en banc. This is such a case."

In part, Schuette argues, en banc consideration makes sense here because the issue is so important. Of the trial court decision, he writes, "This legal conclusion—that there is no conceivable rational basis for voting in support of preserving the definition of marriage—warrants this Court's en banc review."

Additionally, he notes that all four states in the circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee — have bans on same-sex couples' marriages and all four states have brought appeals to the 6th Circuit over court decisions striking down either the bans on recognition of same-sex marriages conducted out of state or the full marriage bans. The potential for conflicting rulings, he argues, means en banc consideration "will also promote the swift and efficient resolution of this issue."

Read the Attorney General's filing:

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.