Marriage_Equality_Map01-06-2015The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced the three-judge panel that will hear three marriage equality cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Judges Patrick E. Higginbotham, Jerry E. Smith and James E. Graves, Jr. will hear the cases on Jan. 9.

Higginbotham and Smith were appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan. Graves was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Higginbotham was a district court judge who previously taught at Southern Methodist University. He was born in Alabama.

Smith was born in Del Rio and educated at Yale.

Graves, born in Mississippi, was educated at Syracuse University and began his career as a staff attorney for Central Mississippi Legal Services.

The 5th Circuit is among the most conservative circuits in the country. Most legal experts have been predicting a loss in this court for marriage equality.