Utah Not Quite Ready With Its Supreme Court Motion to Halt Weddings

Sean-Reyesm IS

Utah Attorney General-designate Sean Reyes, who was appointed to office on December 23. | ATTORNEYGENERAL.UTAH.US

After six days of desperately trying to stop the marriages by same-sex couples authorized on December 20 by US District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby, the Utah Attorney General's Office on December 26 signaled that it is not yet fully prepared to make its arguments for a stay before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

In a statement posted on its website, the office explained, “The Attorney General’s Office is preparing an application to the United States Supreme Court requesting a stay of the district court’s order. Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days. It is the intent of the Attorney General’s Office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

On the evening of December 24, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to issue an emergency stay pending the state's appeal of Shelby's order, citing in particular its evaluation of Utah's likelihood of success on appeal and the threat of irreparable harm to the state if the stay is not granted.

Utah's appeal to the 10th Circuit came after Shelby the day before rejected the state's motion for him to issue a stay. But while it waited for Shelby's ruling on its motion for a stay, the state made two earlier efforts, both turned back, for the 10th Circuit to intervene.

Immediately after the 10th Circuit's Christmas Eve order, the Salt Lake City Fox News affiliate reported that the state would take an emergency appeal to Sotomayor on December 26. That schedule apparently will not hold, and meanwhile marriages by same-sex couples continue to capture public attention throughout Utah and the nation.

Sean Reyes was appointed the state's new attorney general only this week, on December 23, following the resignation of John Swallow, who left amidst federal and state investigations into alleged improprieties. He has not yet taken the reins of the office.