Quick Update on Louisiana Birth Certificate Case

I’ve now been following Adar vs. Smith for several years.   (I’ve often referred to it as the Louisiana birth certificate case.)  You can get much more detail in all those earlier posts.  But in a nutshell, the controversy is about whether gay male parents, having both legally adopted a child who happens to have been born in Louisiana, are entitled to a new birth certificate listing both of their names.   (I know the birth certificate topic itself, even absent the gay parents, is controversial. You can see posts about that broader topic here.)

Oren Adar and Mickey Smith won their case before the trial court and before a panel of the Fifth Circuit before losing to the en banc appellate court.  (That means all the judges reconsidered the opinion of the original three judge panel.  It’s a relatively rare occurence.)   Now their lawyers have petitioned for certiorari–which means they’ve asked the United States Supreme Court to review the case.

The US Supreme Court is the final authority on the issues at the core of the case–whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution requires a state to treat out-of-state adoptive parents as it would treat in-state adoptive parents.  (This is the critical issue even though Smith and Adar wouldn’t be allowed to adopt in Louisiana.)    But asking the Supreme Court to rule on any controversial case that might be seen as involving lesbian/gay rights is also dicey.   That topic has become so politicized that politics, rather than rational determination of law, could easily determine the outcome.

Thus, I am a tad surprised that the parties asked for review.    It’s a reflection, I think, of the attorneys’ belief that the en banc majority opinion is poor reasoned and has potentially broad implications that might lead to concerns beyond the lesbian/gay parents issue.

The Supreme Court does not have to review the case.  Four justices must vote for review in order that to occur.   And the state of Louisiana has the opportunity to file a petition opposing certiorari (which I assume they will do).  I’d expect to see a ruling on whether review will be granted in October.   I’ll watch for it and let you all know what happens next.


4 responses to “Quick Update on Louisiana Birth Certificate Case

  1. Julie this topic tears me up as I believe children ought to first be identified as the offspring of the parents who created them and then if they are adopted have a clear record of that adoption so that one person has one identity their entire life and does not appear to be re-born to a different set of people. But if its allowed for straight couples it should be allowed for gay couples as well. I never knew that my my advocacy for gay and lesbian rights would be threatened by my advocacy in favor of accurate birth records – until this past year anyway.

    • I appreciate your commitment to the equality point and I do think that is what is implicated in this case. Whatever the access to records it ought to be the same for all adopted children, too. Also, I think (though I am not sure) the question here isn’t about whether the child gets a new birth certificate–he does. The question is how many names are on the new certificate–one or two. Even if it is only one, it won’t be a name from the original certificate.

      FWIW, some states–maybe lots of states–do require that the original birth certificates be available to the children when they reach some age.

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