As I wrote last time, The Florida Bar’s member poll supported retention of the three Second District Court of Appeal (DCA) judges who will be on Collier voters’ ballots in November. Specifically, they support retention of:
- Chris W. Altenbernd by 95 percent.
- Morris Silberman by 94 percent.
- Daniel H. Sleet by 91 percent.
The [Second DCA’s] request … puts the Florida Supreme Court in the position of deciding whether to take up the issue after five recent state and federal court decisions found that the voter-approved prohibition against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.The appeals court made the request in a 10-3 ruling in a case involving the divorce of Mariama Monique Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw, a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts in 2010. Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Laurel Lee refused to grant the couple a divorce because state law bans same-sex marriages.The couple appealed Lee’s ruling and asked the 2nd District Court of Appeal to “pass through” the case to the Supreme Court. A panel of the appellate court originally refused but, in an unusual twist, the full court revisited the case, resulting in Wednesday’s ruling….
Under article V, section 3(b)(5) of the Florida Constitution, the supreme court’s jurisdiction to accept cases passed through from the district courts without a disposition is restricted to a very limited group of cases. The judges of this court must certify that such a case requires “immediate” resolution and that the “order” on appeal presents issues of “great public importance” or is an order that will have “a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state…. Although this case is of importance to these parties, I cannot agree that this case is a proper subject for pass through….It is important to understand that the issue in this case is not whether Florida is constitutionally compelled to marry same-sex couples…. [T]he narrow, dispositive issue in this case is whether Florida … must give credit to these lawful out-of-state marriages for the purpose of dissolution. Given that same-sex marriages are a recent development in other states, I am not convinced that Florida’s courts will be clogged in the next three years with out-of-state same-sex couples seeking dissolution. I cannot certify that this order will have “a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state” requiring immediate review in the supreme court.
… this issue does not seem to me to be one that this court cannot handle on appeal or that we should present to the supreme court as a matter ready for immediate resolution…. I am confident that this court can ably consider this appeal and reach a proper resolution. Our decision will resolve the issue for all trial courts in Florida unless another district court disagrees with us…. This issue, unlike the constitutionality of the ban on same sex marriage, may never require the attention of the supreme court….