Supreme Court Mulls
Florida Gay Adoption Case
by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com from the Web, January 5, 2005
Washington -- Supreme Court justices will meet Friday to consider what cases they will hear in 2005.
Among the appeals filed with the court is one involving Florida's blanket ban on gay adoption
-- the only state to have such a ban.
Last year the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit declined to hear a challenge to the Florida law, allowing to stand a ruing by a three-judge panel of the Court that upheld the ban.
The American Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit on behalf of four gay men who would like to adopt in Florida but are prevented from doing so by the state law.
The ban was passed in 1977 in response to Anita Bryant's infamous anti-gay campaign.
The key vote by the court was cast by Judge William H. Pryor Jr. Pryor's nomination to the eleventh Circuit had been blocked by Democrats concerned about his conservative views, but during a one-week recess of the Senate last February, Bush used a clause in the Constitution giving the president the right to appoint judges directly when Congress is not in session to put Pryor on the bench.
The ACLU appealed the ruling to the US Supreme Court
If the Court agrees to hear the appeal it would be its first chance to comment on the scope of its 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas that proclaimed due process extends to gays.
The circuit panel's decision "reflects an almost complete failure to absorb this Court's rulings in Lawrence and Romer that disapproval of gay people is not a constitutionally acceptable basis for government action," wrote American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Matthew Coles in his petition to the Supreme Court.
"It threatens to strip this Court's holdings of any principled meaning and deprive them of the significance that they rightfully deserve."
In his brief to the justices Coles said that while Florida excludes gays as adoptive parents, it does allow adoptions by individuals who are unmarried, disabled, or have a history of substance abuse or even domestic violence.
But, the state of Florida in its brief to the Supreme Court said that the state's law is rationally related to valid state goals and also uses Lawrence in its argument noting that that case involved private sexual acts where adoption is a public act and a privilege, not a right.