Louisiana Court Blocks Marriage Amendment from Ballot Again

Continuing the fluctuating waves of rulings on Louisiana’s proposed constitutional amendment to protect marriage, a state judged ruled late Friday that such amendments are unconstitutional and must be taken off the September 18 ballot.
Civil District Court Judge Christopher Bruno reaffirmed his initial decision, which he made one week earlier, to block the amendment’s vote from upcoming election.

Bruno halted the amendment on two bases: first, Bruno said the amendment will appear on a ballot that was not on a statewide election date. Second, Bruno said the amendment is unconstitutional because it addresses more than one issue.

On August 16, three days before Bruno’s second ruling against the amendment, a separate state judge overturned Bruno’s decision.

Louisiana Judge Michael Caldwall rejected Bruno’s reasonings, saying such challenges can be made only after an election is held. Consequently, Caldwell refused to order the amendment off the ballot.

According to legal observers, the issue is likely to be resolved at the state Supreme Court, since several other cases involving the amendment is circulating through various courts.

Supporters of the amendment, called Bruno’s ruling “hollow” since the measure does not jeopardize contracts between gay couples on any other basis than marriage, and since people have the right to vote on the issue.

"All of this is pure speculation and a judge has not ruled on it yet," said J. Michael Johnson, a lawyer for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.

"The issue before the court is a legal issue and that is: Is this proposed amendment lawfully installed on the ballot? And do the people have a right to vote on this? And the answer clearly is 'yes' to both," Johnson said.