The U.S. Supreme Court last week postponed all oral arguments scheduled through April 1. That includes the argument scheduled in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel, cases involving two California Catholic elementary schools defending their right to select their religion teachers without interference from the government. Though federal court judges sided with the schools, a divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decisions last year. —S.W.
Another Texas judge has pushed back on standards requiring him to officiate same-sex weddings. Jack County Judge Brian Umphress filed a complaint in federal court last Wednesday claiming his decision not to participate complies with Texas law, which state lawmakers have not amended or repealed since the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct last year publicly reprimanded Dianne Hensley, a justice of the peace, for declining to conduct same-sex weddings. Hensley asked for a court declaration that state law allows her to refer same-sex couples to other officiants. The commission found her guilty of violating a judicial ethics rule that barred her from engaging in activities that would cast doubt on her impartiality as a judge.
The commission has not disciplined Umphress. He is preemptively asking for an order protecting judges from investigation or discipline for expressing disapproval of same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct. Both Texas judges raise the question: Can a judge act impartially even when disagreeing with certain sexual behavior?
Yes, Umphress contended in his complaint: “Disapproval of an individual’s sexual behavior does not evince bias toward that individual as a person when they appear in court.” —S.W.