Texpatriate has learned that the case of Pidgeon v. Parker, in which local Republican sued to block a recent City policy that extends full spousal benefits to same-sex spouses of municipal employees, has been removed to a Federal Court. The case, which was initially filed in a local Family District Court, resulted in the granting of a temporary restraining order by a Republican Judge (Lisa Millard), blocking the enforcement of the measure until a hearing next month. This meant couples that had already signed up under the new policy would be out of luck, prompting one such couple to sue the City of Houston in Federal Court themselves.
The Pidgeon case’s initial complaint dealt with Mayor Parker allegedly violating the Texas Constitution, Texas Family Code and the Houston City Charter. Thus, its placement in the Family District Court, as opposed to a Civil District Court that typically deals with constitutional complaints. City Attorney David Feldman has now responded by filing a notice of removal to place the case in Federal Court since it deals with substantial federal questions, including guarantees of equal protection and due process. Parker and Feldman first extended the aforementioned spousal benefits in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act.
I have been saying that this suit belongs in Federal Court for a few weeks now. For, even if the cause makes its way up to the Texas Supreme Court, it would not go well for the defendants since Texas’ jurists are partisan elected officials. Federal judges are representative of both Democratic & Republican regimes, and the US Supreme Court is comprised of a gay friendly majority.
The notice filed by Feldman automatically moves the suit to Federal Court, but plaintiffs could still respond by asking the Federal Judge to remand the case back to the State. This entire procedure is not especially out of question, though this all depends on what type of Judge is selected to preside over the case. The other prospect is that this case could now be easily consolidated with the Freeman case.
Off the Kuff has more.