United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
CASY CARSON and JACQUELINE CARSON, on their own behalf and as next friends of S.B.C. and S.D.C., Plaintiffs,
CATHERINE E. HEIGEL, in her official capacity as Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE MERITS AND FOR DECLARATORY
JUDGMENT AND RENDERING AS MOOT PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Casy and Jacqueline Carson, on their own behalf and as next
friends of S.B.C. and S.D.C., bring this action against
Defendant Catherine E. Heigel in her official capacity as
Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and
Environmental Control and as State Registrar of Vital
Statistics. The parties are represented by excellent counsel.
allege violations of their rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. They seek both
declaratory and injunctive relief. The Court has federal
question jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims under 28
U.S.C. § 1331.
before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for summary
judgment. Having considered the motion, the response, the
reply, the record, and the applicable law, the Court will
grant the motion as to the merits and declaratory judgment
portions of the motion and render as moot Plaintiffs request
for injunctive relief.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
are married and the same-sex parents of their twins, S.B.C.
and S.D.C. Plaintiff Jacqueline Carson became pregnant with
their children by means of artificial insemination. Under the
current practice of Defendant, Plaintiff Jacqueline Carson,
as the birth mother of the twins, is listed as a parent on
S.B.C.'s and S.D.C.'s birth certificates, but the
birth certificates fail to name Plaintiff Jacqueline
Carson's spouse, Plaintiff Casy Carson. Under the same
circumstances, if Plaintiffs were an opposite-sex married
couple, both of their names would be listed on the birth
certificates. With this lawsuit, Plaintiffs seek to modify
Defendant's practice in this regard.
Plaintiffs filed their complaint with this Court, they filed
the instant motion for summary judgment. The Court, having
been fully briefed on the relevant issues, is prepared to
adjudicate the motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate only ''if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is
to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn
in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party has the burden of
proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving
party makes this showing, however, the opposing party may not
rest upon mere allegations or denials, but rather must, by
affidavits or other means permitted by the Rule, set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; see also Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support the
assertion by ''citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials.'' Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A
litigant ''cannot create a genuine issue of material
fact through mere speculation or the building of one
inference upon another.'' Beale v. Hardy,
769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). Therefore,
''[m]ere unsupported speculation . . . is not enough
to defeat a summary judgment motion.'' Ennis v.
Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53
F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).
the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by
summary judgment is appropriate.'' Teamsters
Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119
(4th Cir. 1996). ''Summary judgment is proper only
when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either
the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn
from those facts.'' Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo
Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). The court
must determine ''whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.'' Anderson, 477 U.S. at
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
maintain Defendant's refusal to treat same-sex spouses
the same as opposite-sex spouses in the issuance of birth
certificates violates Obergefell v. Hodges, 135
S.Ct. 2584 (2015), as well as other binding precedent.
Plaintiffs also contend Defendant's refraining from
naming both Plaintiffs on their twins' birth certificates
is violative of their fundamental right to marry and other
protected liberties. According to Plaintiffs, Defendant's
granting birth certificates identifying non-genetic fathers