If you’re not reading Dahlia Lithwick’s play-by-play of the Supreme Court so far this season, you’re missing out, because Antonin Scalia is sweating and drawing more blood than a mixed martial arts fighter in a cage match. Kicking off Monday, the new session for the land’s highest court includes cases on animal cruelty videos, crosses on federal property, gun laws, juveniles and life without parole sentences, and Vioxx lawsuits. What the court won’t be dealing with? Gay issues. That is, in fact, excellent news.
That’s because the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear two LGBT-related cases means either a lower court’s (gay-friendly) ruling stands, or an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit gets denied.
The first case concerns a student’s parents who want a school district to be blamed for their son’s harassment. Bay Windows:
During its official opening day orders Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a Michigan school district which was seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of a student who was being repeatedly harassed as a “queer” and “faggot.” The 6th Circuit federal appeals court ruled in January that the case, Hudson Area Schools v. Patterson, should proceed to trial.
Court records indicate other students repeatedly harassed the Patterson student, calling him “queer,” “gay,” and “faggot,” writing anti-gay slurs and drawings on his books and locker, and urinating on his clothes. Despite the Patterson student seeking help from school officials, the harassment escalated with a student sexually assaulting him in a locker room. The assailant was eventually dismissed but the coach in charge of the locker room later commented to the Patterson son and others in the locker room that they should “not joke around with guys who can’t take a man joke.”
Because the Supreme Court refused to hear the school’s appeal, the parents’ lawsuit will now be heard in a federal district court in Detroit.
Read: It won’t be dismissed, as the school district wanted.
Moving on, it’s time to mix gays and religion! When an Episcopal church tried claiming ownership of the land its church sits on (after splitting with the national church over the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson), a court ruled the parish wasn’t entitled to it.
The Supreme Court also refused Monday to hear an appeal from an Episcopal Church in Los Angeles that sought to break away from the national denomination because the denomination allowed the consecration of a gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
The St. James parish in the diocese of Los Angeles separated from the denomination in 2003 and tried to take church property with them. But the denomination fought the parish’s efforts to take the property, and the California Supreme Court agreed.
By refusing to hear the St. James Parish appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court has left the ruling of the California court intact.
… the California decision affects no other states, and, importantly, there are similar cases percolating in other states. For instance, the entire Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, has a lawsuit underway attempting to acquire church property with its separation. And, the Supreme Court’s refusal of St. James v. Episcopal Diocese does not preclude it from taking up a similar case from another state.
So while the Supreme Court’s decision not to get involved in either case can be interpreted as a position move for The Gays, we may be in a wholly different position next year, when we’re begging the justices to take up gay marriage rights in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.