On Monday, March 7, the United States Supreme Court in E.L v E.L. upheld the requirement that one state has to recognize the adoption of a child under another state’s law.  In a somewhat unusual move the Court issued the ruling without signature and without an oral argument before the Court.

The case involved two women who had formed a family in 1995 in the state of Georgia and who had adopted a child.  The couple eventually moved to Alabama and separated in 2011. When one of the parents sought custody, the Alabama court rejected or refused to recognize the legal Georgia adoption.  In effect the Alabama Supreme Court had taken it upon itself to render the Georgia adoption invalid by the Alabama Court’s interpretation of Georgia law.

In rejecting the Alabama Court’s logic, the U.S. Supreme Court opinion stated:

“The Constitution provides that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, Per Curiam and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”  U. S. Const., Art. IV, §1.  That Clause requires each State to recognize and give effect to valid judgments rendered by the courts of its sister States.  It serves “to alter the status of the several states as independent foreign sovereignties, each free to ignore obligations created under the laws or by the judicial proceedings of the others, and to make them integral parts of a single nation.”  Milwaukee County v. M. E. White Co., 296 U. S. 268, 277 (1935).

In recent weeks the Supreme Court has altered some of its actions absent a ninth justice with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia but the judgment in this case appeared to be without much division.