If you were a federal judge whose decisions are almost always upheld on appeal, and you’ve decided that just once you’d like to know what it’s like to have one of your rulings overturned, you might write a ruling just like Judge Martin Feldman’s dreadful antigay marriage decision.
It’s hard to fathom how such an experienced federal judge could have written such a terrible decision. And we don’t just mean it’s terrible because we don’t like it — he’s just objectively wrong about a who bunch of things.
For example, he calls homosexuality a choice, good lord. Maybe it’s because he was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1983, and he’s frozen in time in the early ’80s?
And then, later on, he says that the 14th Amendment specifically prohibits discrimination based on race. That’s important, because the 14th Amendment contains that due process and equal protection clauses, and is a cornerstone of the lawsuits against marriage bans. If it specifically mentioned race but not other characteristics, it would be a lot harder to protect citizens from discrimination.
The only problem with Feldman’s statement, of course, is that it isn’t true. There’s nothing about race in the 14th Amendment.
There are plenty of other problems with the decision, and we have every confidence that it can’t stand up to any sort of review.
But will it ever get to the point of being reviewed? That’s hard to say. The plaintiffs in Louisiana have already started the appeals process. But in just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will be back in session, and they’ll have the opportunity to take up at least three marriage cases. (Or five, if Wisconsin and Indiana hurry. Or eight, if we get a ruling in Idaho, Hawaii and Nevada soon.)
While the Supreme Court deliberates, other federal courts might decide to just wait until they get a final decision. That means a pause in the litigation until as late as June. So it’s possible that the Louisiana decision could wind up sticking around for a long long time.