In a ruling in which you could almost feel judges rolling their eyes, the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday confirmed that same-sex marriage is legal in Puerto Rico after the US Supreme Court's 2015 ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide.
Previously, US District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez said the Supreme Court ruling did not apply to Puerto Rico because it is a territory, not a state.
But in an unsigned opinion, the First Circuit Court of Appeals responded with the judicial equivalent of a smackdown:
The district court's ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin. The constitutional rights at issue here are the rights to due process and equal protection, as protected by both the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. … Those rights have already been incorporated as to Puerto Rico. … And even if they had not, then the district court would have been able to decide whether they should be. …
In ruling that the ban is not unconstitutional because the applicable constitutional right does not apply in Puerto Rico, the district court both misconstrued that right and directly contradicted our mandate. And it compounded its error (and signaled a lack of confidence in its actions), by failing to enter a final judgment to enable an appeal in ordinary course.
Even worse for Pérez-Giménez, the appeals court kicked him off the case entirely, writing, "The case is remitted to be assigned randomly by the clerk to a different judge to enter judgment in favor of the Petitioners promptly."
Thankfully, Puerto Rico's governor was already following the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling. But this new opinion makes it absolutely official: Marriage equality is the law of the land in Puerto Rico. Period.
Read the full ruling: