Preliminary Court Talks Held On Same Sex Marriage In Pa

08.23.13 | Sarah Harnisch

A Pennsylvania court laid out the issues Thursday to be argued at a hearing in two weeks about a suburban Philadelphia court clerk's decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Commonwealth Court released an order in the case brought by the state Health Department against Montgomery County Orphan's Court Clerk Bruce Hanes, limiting the arguments set for Sept. 4 in Harrisburg to five topics. The court wants lawyers to focus on whether the court has jurisdiction, given that Hanes is a judicial officer. Other questions are whether issuing marriage licenses are a judicial act and whether the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's marriage law can be raised as a defense in the case. Also at issue are whether the Department of Health has standing to sue, and if not, the effect of Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane's delegation of defense of the law to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's legal staff. A spokesman for Corbett's Office of General Counsel said Thursday the court order was under review, and the governor's lawyers will be prepared to present their case at the hearing.