(a) Intervention of Right.
Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action: (1) when a statute of the United States confers an unconditional right to intervene; or (2) when the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant’s ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant’s interest is adequately represented by existing parties.
(b) Permissive Intervention.
Upon timely application anyone may be permitted to intervene in an action: (1) when a statute of the United States confers a conditional right to intervene; or (2) when an applicant’s claim or defense and the main action have a question of law or fact in common. When a party to an action relies for ground of claim or defense upon any statute or executive order administered by a federal or state governmental officer or agency or upon any regulation, order, requirement, or agreement issued or made pursuant to the statute or executive order, the officer or agency upon timely application may be permitted to intervene in the action. In exercising its discretion the court shall consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties.
I do believe that states can’t bring other states to trial in a state court as parties to a claim. It could be argued that RI could submit a claim (license evidence) which is the main action in this case and clearly has a question of law or fact in common (its validity).
However, I believe if RI was granted intervention, the case would arise under federal subject matter jurisdiction. The quote above is from the USC s. 24, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Here’s the Mass version, rather similar:
RULE 24. INTERVENTION
(a) Intervention of Right. Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action: (1) when a statute of the Commonwealth confers an unconditional right to intervene or (2) when the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and he is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant’s interest is adequately represented by existing parties.
As you can see, MRCP is verbatim FRCP, with language adjusted to match terms of our state.
A few things could happen from here, which would probably not be decided in Mass courts.
From the news article in the original post:
“No evidence was introduced before this court of a constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision from Rhode Island that explicitly deems void or otherwise expressly forbids same-sex marriage,” he ruled.
The ruling has no effect on whether Rhode Island or any other state must allow gay marriage.
1. If a similar case is brought to trial, this case’s holding could be overturned by introducing said missing evidence, nullifying all licenses afforded to Rhode Island residents. Reilly has claimed the state will not appeal, and that makes it common law that RI gay couples can wed in Mass, at least for now.
2. When the couple returns to Rhode Island, their legal status of being married is challenged (Filing Taxes, for example) in Rhode Island court, which finds the license invalid. This finding would have to be based upon Rhode Island law, but perhaps some evidence may be introduced that was not introduced in the Mass trial.
If either 1 or 2 happen, Rhode Island gay couples will not have the right to be legally married. However, if 2 happens but the Rhode Island court finds the license legal, then you will have a similar Gay Marraige common law that Massachusetts has.