A judge based in Wyoming who was censured for publicly stating her opposition to same-sex marriage has appealed her case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.
Judge Ruth Neely, who served as a municipal judge for 22 years and as a part-time circuit court magistrate for about 15 years, was censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court in March 2017 for her comments to a reporter in 2014 saying that she believes marriage “is the union of a man and a woman,” according to a press release by her attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
In March of 2015, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conducts and Ethics filed a complaint against Neely regarding her comments, and the commission recommended in February 2016 that Neely be removed from both her roles as a municipal judge and circuit court magistrate. Neely then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which ruled against her in March 2017 with a 3 to 2 vote.
Neely was then required to solemnize all marriages or none, which led to her losing her magistrate position.
“The Wyoming Supreme Court said that it had to punish Judge Neely to uphold ‘judicial integrity’ even though it recognized that there was ‘no evidence’ that Judge Neely’s comments harmed ‘respect for the judiciary’ or ‘any person,’” said the ADF.
However, Neely’s attorneys argue that the state of Wyoming “allows magistrates to decline wedding requests for countless secular reasons — because they refuse to perform weddings for strangers, they simply don’t feel like marrying the couple, or they prefer to watch a football game.”
“But the state punished Judge Neely for saying that she would need to refer some wedding requests for a religious reason,” the ADF stated.
The ADF also noted that Neely was never asked to solemnize any same-sex marriages, and that if she was asked, she would have referred the couple to another magistrate.
Unless an extension is requested, the state of Wyoming will file a response within 30 days, according to the ADF.