The Arkansas Supreme Court released no decision today in the appeal of Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling invalidating the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The case was argued before the court four weeks ago. It is considered unusual for an appeal decision to take this long to decide. The court traditiionally releases decisions every Thursday. The marriage case wasn’t on this morning’s list.
The court has completed regular sessions for the year, but a failure to release an opinion on the customary weekly schedule doesn’t mean the opinion won’t come at another time. Stephanie Harris, the court’s public spokesman, said the decision could come anytime, but she has no information on what the timing might be. It could be before the end of the year or when the new term starts, with a couple of new Supreme Court justices on board.
A federal district judge has also struck down the marriage ban. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has said he’ll consult with Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge and wait for the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling before deciding whether to appeal the federal ruling. The state case includes a state constitutional argument in favor of marriage equality. An Arkansas Supreme Court ruling on that state ground would trump potential federal court action.
An Arkansas Supreme Court ruling could only be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to accept numerous cases from other states in which same-sex marriage bans have been struck down as unconstitutional.