Wednesday, April 23, 2003
An interesting US Supreme Court opinion was published today. This opinion looks at first glance to be a boring question about whether or not the California Franchise Tax Board can be sued in Nevada state courts. But in reality it is a slightly more interesting question about the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution. This is the clause that gay rights activists have claimed would require all 50 states to recognize gay marriage if they succeed in getting one state to recognize it.
Unfortunately, its my opinion that the Supreme Court precedent in this area is against them. This case illustrates why, the case is about a person who, not liking the CFTB's attempt to get him to pay a disputed tax assessment, sued that board in Nevada. As the opinion begins: "We granted certiorari to resolve whether the Nevada Supreme Court's refusal to extend full faith and credit to California's statute immunizing its tax collection agency from suit violates Article IV, §1 of the Constitution. We conclude it does not, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the Nevada Supreme Court." The CFTB argues that California law makes them immune in Nevada. This is all the more amusing because the previous USSCt opinion in this area, Nevada v. Hall 440 U. S. 410 (1979), was when a California court ignored Nevada's soverign immunity statute in a negligence suit naming Nevada as a defendant in a matter arising from a traffic accident.
Today, a unanimous USSCt ruled, following that previous case, that Nevada is not obligated by the US Constitution to apply California law of soverign immunity in Nevada courts where it contradicts Nevada's own law. Its my belief that this illustrates the flaw in the claim that gay marriages would have to be recognized by other states. These cases about the Full Faith and Credit clause would mean, in my opinion, that a state that banned gay marriages within its own borders would not be required to recognize the validity of a marriage solemnicized under another state's law.
Robin 10:39 AM