Ninth Circuit's Application of Heightened Scrutiny for Sexual Orientation Will Stand
Washington – In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a pharmaceutical contract dispute, Abbott Laboratories v. SmithKline Beecham, that it violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to exclude someone from jury service because of his or her sexual orientation. In doing so, the court also concluded that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny, a higher standard of judicial review that requires a stronger justification for laws and policies that treat gays and lesbians differently. Only days after the Ninth Circuit's decision, the Attorney General of Nevada ended the state's defense of its marriage ban in another case before that court, concluding that Nevada's justifications for excluding same-sex couples from marriage could not withstand that higher level of review.
Yesterday, the deadline passed for AbbVie (the pharmaceutical spin-off of Abbott Laboratories that is a party in this litigation) to seek review of the January decision by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit. Furthermore, HRC has learned that AbbVie will not seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“AbbVie’s decision not to appeal this ruling may turn out to be a pivotal moment in the quest for marriage equality in every state in this country and greater constitutional protections for all LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We thank the company for standing on the right side of history."
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.