Georgia same-sex mar…
Georgia same-sex marriage amendment update (free registration required):

A Fulton County judge on Wednesday declined to halt a Nov. 2 referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, a major victory for supporters of the measure.

Opponents of the amendment said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Superior Court Judge Constance Russell ruled in a four-page order that the court has no authority to intervene before the legislative process is concluded. Until a constitutional amendment has been voted on by the electorate, she said, it is the equivalent of a bill that has not yet passed the General Assembly.

“The courts may not insert themselves into the legislative process prior to the enactment of laws any more than legislators may intervene in a jury’s verdict or a judge’s ruling in a specific case,” Russell wrote.

The Georgia ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Atlanta law firm of Alston and Bird filed the lawsuit Sept. 16 seeking to stop the referendum on the grounds that the amendment violates the state constitution’s single subject rule by addressing other issues, such as civil unions and the jurisdiction of Georgia courts.

They also contended that the question voters will see on the ballot is misleading because it asks only if the state should recognize as marriage the “union of man and woman.”

Russell heard arguments from both sides Friday, with the attorney general’s office representing the state. At the conclusion of the hearing, she hinted she would be unwilling to stop the referendum based on an 84-year-old court decision.

Russell cited the 1920 Georgia Supreme Court case of Gaskins v. Dorsey, which stemmed from a lawsuit in which several south Georgians tried to stop a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to create a new county in their area, Lanier. The high court unanimously decided that the referendum should proceed, ruling that the legislative process was not complete until voters had cast their ballots.

Russell based her decision Wednesday largely on that case. In her order, the judge did not comment on the legal merits of the ACLU and Lambda Legal’s case.

Since the case the judge based her ruling on was also the attempted block of a proposed constitutional amendment, it sounds to me like this lawsuit is destined for the scrap heap after the state Supreme Court hears it. After the vote, I’m sure they’ll give it another shot, but for now, my (pretty safe) prediction is it’s outta here.

(Cross posted at Comments welcome.)

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