The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals today announced on their website the justices selected to hear the appeals of lower court rulings on gay marriage cases from Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. The panel consists of Judges Patrick Higginbotham of Dallas, Jerry Smith of Houston and James Graves Jr. of Jackson, Miss. Higginbotham and Smith are conservative judges appointed to the bench by President Reagan, while Graves is an Obama appointee. Marriage supporters tell NOM they are encouraged by the panel.
The panel will hear an appeal next week from state officials in Texas and Mississippi where lower federal court judges overturned state marriage amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The same panel will hear an appeal from gay couples in Louisiana who were rebuffed by a federal judge in their attempt to redefine marriage in that state.
The 5th Circuit is one of the most conservative in the country. If they vote to uphold traditional marriage laws, as many observers expect, they will join the 6th Circuit which issued a similar ruling this past October. The US Supreme Court is now considering taking the 6th Circuit case, something that NOM has called upon them to do. The first opportunity for the SCOTUS justices to take the case will be in their conference scheduled for January 9th.