LITTLE ROCK, AR – There are new developments in the legal wrangling over same-sex marriage in Arkansas.
On Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the appointments of three special justices to hear an Arkansas Supreme Court case that will decide who then, in turn, decides a challenge to the state’s ban on gay marriage that has been pending before the court since last year.
Those special justices are:
- Brett Watson, Searcy, Special Associate Justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court CV-15-227. Replaces Chief Justice Jim Hannah, who has disqualified himself from the case.
- Judge Betty Dickey, Heber Springs, Special Associate Justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court. CV-15-227. Replaces Justice Rhonda Wood, who has disqualified herself from the case.
- Judge Shawn Womack, Mountain Home, Special Associate Justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court. CV-15-227. Replaces Justice Paul Danielson, who has disqualified himself from the case.
Case CV-15-227 was created from case CV-14-427 earlier this month to settle which justices should decide on the challenge to the gay marriage ban before that case proceeds. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the gay marriage case on an expedited schedule in November 2014, but failed to issue a decision before new justices were elected to the bench, thus leading to the question of which justices would decide the original case.
In addition to today’s appointments, there were three new filings on Monday in the case. Two of them were from plaintiff-appellees that are challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 83, the state’s ban on gay marriage, and a third filing came from the state.
In one of the filings, appellees withdrew their motion requesting briefs on which justice should decide the case and said they believe justices now on the court should decide the case and watch the video of the oral argument even though two did not participate. A second filing from appellees withdrew a motion that justices now on the court should decide the case and they say instead that they do not wish to take a position upon which justices should decide this case.
The third filing, from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, asked for new arguments, citing the changed makeup of the court.