Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Magistrates Lack Standing To Challenge Memo From Administrative Office On Same-Sex Marriages

In Breedlove v. Warren, (NC App., Sept. 20, 2016), the North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed for lack of standing a suit by two former magistrates who objected on religious grounds to a Memo issued by the state Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) indicating that magistrates have a constitutional duty to perform marriages for same-sex couples on the same basis as other marriages, and that refusal to do so is grounds for suspension or removal from office. The two resigned after they were not granted religious accommodations. The Court concluded that, despite the AOC memo, under North Carolina law it is various judges, not the AOC, that has authority to sanction, suspend or remove magistrates. The Court concluded:
the allegations in plaintiffs’ complaint... fail to demonstrate an injury that defendants were capable of inflicting upon plaintiffs, and by extension fails to show that such an injury could be redressed.
WRAL News reports on the decision, and reminds readers that late last year the North Carolina legislature enacted a bill giving magistrates the right to opt out of performing marriages on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. (See prior related posting.)