Tennessee lawsuit challenges authority for marriage licenses after SCOTUS ruling in 2015

Tennessee lawsuit challenges authority for marriage licenses after SCOTUS ruling in 2015
(Image: White House via National Journal)

According to the suit filed against County Clerk Donna Simpson, the high court’s ruling last year invalidated state marriage laws that exclude same-sex couples, which Tennessee’s explicitly does.

Since the Tennessee General Assembly has not adopted new laws, the suit states, no valid marriage licenses can be issued. Anyone who performs a marriage can’t return a signed license to the county clerk, and failing to do so is a misdemeanor. Anyone who marries a couple considered “not capable” of being married can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 — and lack of a valid license means no couple is capable, the suit states. …

“This lawsuit does not deny that the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review,” Fowler said in a statement then. “It does not deny the power of a federal court to judge the constitutionality of a particular law. It does not deny that the Supreme Court ruled that our state marriage license law is invalid.

“And it is that point which leads to what this lawsuit does assert, namely, how does anyone, regardless of the sexes of the parties, get a valid marriage license pursuant to an invalid law?”

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