The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued no word today about the state’s appeal of Judge Chris Piazza’s decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The Court has begun its holiday recess and won’t meet again until Jan. 6. It can arrange to release an opinion at any time, but three days next week are state holidays, which presents further complications on staffing necessary to get an opinion published when it is ready.
The delay has prompted some speculation about what should occur if the court doesn’t decide the case by the end of the year. Two judges will be leaving the court, Justices Donald Corbin and Cliff Hoofman.
Corbin will be succeeded Jan. 1 by Robin Wynne. If the case is still pending Jan. 1, the best guess I can get from legal sources is that the justices would have to conference again on the case and have Wynne vote in place of Corbin. That might not affect the opinion already being drafted, if his vote didn’t change the outcome. Hoofman, who’ll be succeeded by Rhonda Wood, is not participating in the case. He recused and a special justice, Robert McCorkindale, is sitting in his place. It has been the practice of the court when a special justice has been appointed to have the appointee continue on the case until completion, even in a change of tenure on the court. The general thinking, then, is that McCorkindale would stay through to the end on the case. But four members of the seven-member Court could always decide a change in practice.
The court heard oral arguments more than four weeks ago.