Civil and Human Rights

Adar v. Smith

Adar v. Smith raises important questions about the scope and enforceability of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV.

Case Summary

On August 10, 2011, CAC filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in support of the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in Adar v. Smith. This case raises important questions about the scope and enforceability of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV.

In 2006, Oren Adar and Mickey Smith legally adopted a little boy who was born in Louisiana. The valid, legal adoption took place in New York. In order to ensure that their son could be covered by Smith’s employer’s health insurance and obtain travel and identity documents, among other rights and benefits, the couple asked Louisiana to issue an amended birth certificate listing them as the boy’s parents. Louisiana refused, even though state law requires that when a child born in Louisiana has been adopted in another state, Louisiana must issue an amended birth certificate to the adoptive parents upon presentation of the adoption decree, identifying them on the birth certificate as the child’s parents. Louisiana claimed that the New York adoption decree violated its own policy of not allowing joint adoptions by “unmarried persons.” In a deeply divided en banc ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s actions as constitutional.

CAC’s brief argued that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution secures individual rights as well as the viability of the Union, and is properly enforceable by federal courts in a Section 1983 action. In safeguarding the equal dignity of states in the Union, the Full Faith and Credit Clause also protects the rights of individuals, requiring states to respect judgments issued by the courts of the other states that make up the Union. Louisiana failed to honor its constitutional obligation to give full faith and credit to out-of-state judgments that grant adoptions to unmarried couples when it refused to recognize such an adoption as equal in authority to adoptions adjudged in Louisiana.

On October 11, 2011, the Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Case Timeline

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