In an utterly inevitable turn of events, the First Circuit Court of Appeals restored marriage equality to Puerto Rico on Thursday, reversing a bizarre district court ruling, which held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges did not apply to the territory.
“The district court’s ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin,” the First Circuit wrote, in reference to U.S. District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez’s 10-page anti-gay rant. “The constitutional rights at issue here are the rights to due process and equal protection,” which the Supreme Court has already found to apply to Puerto Rico.
“In any event, for present purposes we need not gild the lily,” the court continued, declining to engage in a lengthy constitutional analysis because the First Circuit already ruled that Obergefell mandated marriage equality in Puerto Rico. In ruling otherwise, “the district court both misconstrued that right and directly contradicted our mandate.”
Signaling a complete lack of trust in the district judge, the First Circuit issued an order (called a writ of mandamus) requiring that the district court strike down Puerto Rico’s same-sex marriage ban. Then, for good measure, the court revoked Pérez-Giménez’s ability to hear the case, ordering the clerk to assign the case to a different judge.
And that, my friends, is what a bench-slap looks like.