Legal Briefs (October 2014)

NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, signed on to amicus briefs in a number of precedent-setting cases that urge support of same-sex marriage.

In Baskin v. Zoeller, an amicus brief was filed in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in two cases joined for review, one addressing Indiana’s and the other Wisconsin’s laws banning same-sex marriage.

In Latta v. Otter, NASW signed on to an amicus brief filed in the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals that challenges Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban.

The briefs similarly argue that the same-sex marriage bans impose a disadvantage to same-sex couples and create an institutional stigma on their relationships.

The briefs conclude that the each state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that the rulings of the lower courts should be affirmed.

On Aug. 29, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a decision that reflected the views of an amicus brief prepared by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union that NASW and its New Hampshire Chapter joined along with a number of social action groups.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court adopted the main argument urged in the amicus brief that four defendants who were sentenced to life in prison without parole when they were juveniles should receive new sentencing hearings. This granted a retroactive application of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama to juveniles who had been sentenced to life in prison prior to 2012.

The amicus brief argued that the life without parole sentences were unconstitutional pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which banned sentences of mandatory life in jail without parole for juveniles. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the main argument presented in the case on appeal that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies retroactively to lower-court cases decided before the Supreme Court’s Miller decision. This means that the four juveniles will receive a review of their sentences with a likely result of a reduction in the amount of time to be served in jail.

These and other NASW LDF cases can be found in the Amicus Brief Database.