'Numerous Emails, Letters, and Postcards Expressing a Wide Variety of Views, Which We Have Treated as Amicus Briefs'
The Texas Supreme Court early Friday morning rejected a state appeals court ruling that found same-sex couples must be treated equally, including in the benefits they are entitled to receive from the state. Two men sued the Mayor of Houston saying the city did not have the right to grant married same-sex couples the same employee marriage benefits that married different-sex couples automatically receive.
While the Texas Supreme Court did not specifically rule same-sex couples don't have to receive equal benefits, it didn't actually say the did not, except to imply in its opinion that they don't.
"No inherent right to gay marriage benefits," is how the Austin American-Statesman reported the ruling.
The Court sent the appeals court ruling back to the lower court for review.
But, as Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston noticed, the Texas Supreme Court took what NCRM can only call the unprecedented step of admitting it took public opinion into account when deciding the case, Pidgeon v. Houston.
And not just public opinion, but postcards, letters, and emails.
Generally, interested parties can petition the court to allow them to submit an amicus brief to express their opinion on a particular case. For example, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court case that finally declared marriage for same-sex couples to be a civil right, nearly 150 "friend of the court" briefs were filed.
But the Texas Supreme Court admits not only did it accept amicus briefs, it accepted public opinion – basically the opinion of anyone who wrote to the court, regardless of their ties to the case, regardless of their level of expertise. Presumably, not non of these opinions were vetted, it's entirely unknown who sent them.
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