The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 22, 2013

Commonweath Court outlines issues for gay marriage hearing

By Mark Scolforo
The Associated Press

— HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania court is laying out the issues to be argued in two weeks regarding a suburban Philadelphia court clerk’s decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Commonwealth Court today released an order limiting argument to five topics.

The court wants lawyers to focus on whether the court has jurisdiction, given that Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Clerk Bruce 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 Hanes, and, if not, the effect of Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s delegation of defense of the law to the governor’s legal staff.