Yet a federal judge’s involvement seemed inevitable. Since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, more than 60 federal lawsuits have been filed challenging state laws that forbid same-sex marriage.
The cases arrived in Young’s court following the vote by Indiana’s GOP-controlled Legislature to support a resolution putting a same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution.
Young has a partisan past. He was a college roommate of former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, the Democrat who nominated him to the federal bench. He was active in local Democratic politics before he became a trial court judge in Vanderburgh County. He was appointed to the bench by Democratic President Bill Clinton.
Shepard has a partisan past, too. As a young man, he served as top aide to a popular Republican mayor in Evansville. Twice he unsuccessfully sought a seat in the Indiana House. He was appointed to the state’s high court by former Gov. Bob Orr, a Republican.
But Shepard said Young has never been thought of an aggressive partisan — off or on the bench. “He was never party to any sort of unseemly political dialogue that is too common in the present day,” Shepard said.
He’s not the only one vouching for Young. Retired state Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan calls Young “careful and thoughtful in his decisions, always deciding the case on the law and proven facts as he understood them.”
Both retired jurists noted Young’s good humor and ability to deflect criticism with grace.
Those virtues are likely to come in handy. Young’s emergency order expires in early May, when a hearing is scheduled for additional arguments in the case. Those pending lawsuits are likely to be consolidated into one case, and could be decided as early as June.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.