Quantcast
Connect with us

Supreme Court appears on cusp of declaring right to same-sex marriage

Published

on

The U.S. Supreme Court’s arguments on Tuesday over same-sex marriage will cap more than two decades of litigation and a transformation in public attitudes.

Based on the court’s actions during the past two years, a sense of inevitability is in the air: That a majority is on the verge of declaring gay marriage legal nationwide.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s pivotal member on gay rights, has been marching in this direction with opinions dating to 1996. In his most recent gay rights decision for the court in 2013, rejecting a legal definition of marriage limited to a man and woman for purposes of federal benefits, Kennedy deplored that U.S. law for making gay marriages “unequal.”

ADVERTISEMENT

That 5-4 decision did not address a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but lower court judges interpreted the ruling as an endorsement of it and began invalidating state bans.

When states appealed rulings striking down their same-sex marriage prohibitions, the Supreme Court declined to intervene, most notably in October 2014 when it denied appeals in seven cases on a single day.

Instead, the nine justices are hearing in Tuesday’s oral arguments an appeal of the sole decision from a regional U.S. appeals court that went the opposite way. Last November, the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld gay marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

With 37 of the 50 states now permitting gay marriage, many because of judicial orders, it seems unlikely the country’s highest court would reverse course. Public opinion polls over the last decade have shown large increases in support for gay marriage. A ruling is due by the end of June.

KEY SWING VOTE

ADVERTISEMENT

Yet some questions remain.

How much will Kennedy, a member of the court’s five-man conservative bloc who often casts decisive votes in close cases, show his hand in the 2-1/2 hours of oral arguments? Will he reveal a clear view that the Constitution gives gay people a right to marry or will he voice concerns for state interests in controlling marriage laws?

An element of uncertainty hovers over Chief Justice John Roberts, who broke with the other court conservatives and cast the deciding vote upholding President Barack Obama’s healthcare law in 2012. Roberts voted against gay rights in the 2013 ruling. But he separated himself from the most conservative dissenters and declined to declare outright that states may ban gay marriage.

ADVERTISEMENT

He has demonstrated apprehension about the reputation of the court that, by virtue of his service as chief justice, informally bears his name. In his opinions, he has sometimes tried to lower tensions in controversial cases and reassure people that the court is aligning with precedent and public expectations.

The question is not only how Roberts might vote but what he might write.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the 2013 ruling, he denounced the court majority’s sentiment that federal lawmakers were deliberately harming gay people with the limited definition of marriage. “I would not tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry,” he wrote.

For the other seven justices, expectations are clearer.

The four liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have signaled their opposition to state same-sex marriage bans. On the other side have been the three most conservative justices, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, asserting that nothing in the Constitution guarantees same-sex marriage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Two legal questions are before the justices: whether the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection cover a right to same-sex marriage; and, if they do not, whether states that ban same-sex marriages must recognize such unions performed in other states.

Gay couples and their families, about 30 adults and 20 children, have appealed the 6th Circuit’s decision. The name petitioner is James Obergefell, who wanted his home state of Ohio, which prohibits gay marriage, to recognize his Maryland marriage to John Arthur as Arthur was dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Officials expect the courtroom to be packed to its 400-seat capacity. Lines for general spectator seats began forming around 6 a.m. on Friday, more than four days ahead of the scheduled oral arguments at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Joan Biskupic; Editing by Howard Goller and Will Dunham)

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP appointees considered disloyal to Trump won’t be spared as president’s new hatchet-man begins purge: report

Published

on

According to a report from the New York Times, longtime government employees who landed their jobs because of their Republican bonafides are now coming to work each day with the threat of dismissal hanging over their heads if it is believed they are are not totally on board with Donald Trump policies.

Following a report that Johnny McEntee, a 29-year-old loyalist just installed to take over the Office of Presidential Personnel, is instructing "departments to search for people not devoted to the president so they can be removed," the Times notes that just because a staffer is a Republican in good standing doesn't mean that won't be booted.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Here is why these Nevadans are betting on Sanders

Published

on

LAS VEGAS — Any doubts that Nevadans wouldn't show up for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were quickly squashed by the amount of people lined up to get into his Friday night rally in Las Vegas on the eve of the Nevada caucus: an estimated 2,020, according to his campaign. One would have been forgiven for assuming the crowd spilling out the main entrance and down the street had lined up to get into one of the city's hottest shows, not a "Get Out the Vote" event. Despite stereotypes that Sanders only draws support from the young (and mostly white), the crowd was visibly diverse in age, ethnicity and race. And anyone who didn't arrive already wearing the requisite Bernie gear had plenty of opportunities to buy some as they waited to enter the venue.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Roger Stone’s dream of booting judge for sentencing comments brutally crushed by ex-US Attorney: ‘He’s met his match’

Published

on

Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance crushed any hopes former Donald Trump associate Roger Stone might have that his prison sentence will be voided due to comments made by the presiding judge in his federal trial.

Speaking with host Alex Witt, Vance left no doubt Stone's latest legal gambit will collapse just like his previous attempts to squirm out of his trial did.

"Stone's legal team says that Judge Amy Berman Jackson's assertion that the jurors served with integrity shows bias," host Witt stated. "Do you buy that argument and legally would that be enough to get the judge dismissed from the case?"

Continue Reading
 
 
close-image