Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Arizona Says Judges Cannot Refuse To Perform Same-Sex Marriages If They Perform Others

The Arizona Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has issued Revised Advisory Opinion 15-01 (March 9, 2015), Judicial Obligation To Perform Same-Sex Marriages. It provides in part that:
a judge who chooses to perform marriages may not discriminate between marriages based on the judge’s opposition to the concept of same-sex marriage.
Rule 2.3(B) of the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge shall not, "in the performance of judicial duties," manifest bias or prejudice based upon sexual orientation....
Refusing to perform same-sex marriages, while agreeing to perform opposite sex marriages, also violates Rule 2.2 of the Code which provides that "[a] judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially."
...  The JEAC concludes that a judge may choose for various reasons not to conduct any marriages at all because performing marriages is a discretionary, not mandatory, function. A judge may also choose to conduct marriages only for friends and relatives to the exclusion of all others. Such a choice would not run afoul of Rule 2.3(B) because it is not based on sexual orientation. Of course, a judge who performs marriages only for friends and relatives would violate Rule 2.3(B) if the judge refuses to perform marriages for same sex friends and relatives.
AP reports on reactions to the ruling.