Main | Monday, December 29, 2014

BREAKING: Florida AG Pam Bondi Punts On Demand For Ruling Clarification, Says Judge Should Decide Scope Of Order

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has just filed.
Pursuant to this Court’s December 24, 2014, order requiring a response, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services (the “DMS Secretary”) responds to the Washington County Clerk of Court’s Emergency Motion for Clarification, DE 99. This Court is best situated to determine the reach of its own order. If the Court intends for paragraph 4 to bind a Florida clerk of court (or all Florida clerks of court), additional specificity may be appropriate to place any such clerk on proper notice.
I'll post more analysis here as it becomes available.

UPDATE: Bondi has issued a press release:
Pursuant to an order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the Attorney General’s Office today filed the attached response to the Washington County Clerk of Court’s Emergency Motion for Clarification. The widespread confusion that now exists, as evidenced by multiple media reports, is precisely what the Attorney General’s Office sought to avoid while seeking a stay pending final resolution in favor of either side of the issue. As stated in the response filed today, if the federal court intended the injunction to have effects beyond those that appear on its face, the court may wish to provide appropriate clarification.
UPDATE II: From the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:
Just two hours before a midnight deadline, the state obeyed a federal judge's order to clarify Florida county clerks' role in issuing same-sex marriage licenses — by asking the judge to clarify it himself. Last Wednesday, federal judge Robert Hinkle ordered Chad Poppell, Florida's Secretary of the Department of Management Services, to explain by the end of the day Monday whether Florida's county clerks could issue the licenses. Bondi's response then went on to argue that county clerks are not agents of the Secretary or the Surgeon General, but are instead "independent constitutional officers." The response ended by reiterating "the Court may wish to provide appropriate clarification." Hinkle's order also allowed the state Surgeon General and lawyers for the same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the case to file responses to Bell's request for clarification. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did file a response, in which they argued that all the state's county clerks "are agents or at least in active concert with defendant [Surgeon General John Armstrong]," because they obtain their marriage licenses through the state Department of Health, which is overseen by Armstrong.

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