NOTE – FOR MORE, READ: LGBT Orgs React To Supreme Court Decision To Hear Two Gay Marriage Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court today has decided it will hear the Prop 8 case and one DOMA marriage equality case, the famous case of Edie Windsor.
Trying to sort this all out, it is clear that the Court has agreed to consider the merits case in Prop. 8, because that is what the petition presented as its question, but that it is also going to address whether the proponents had a right to pursue their case. If the Court were to find that the proponents did not have Art. III standing, that is the end of the matter: there would be no review on the merits of Proposition 8, or of the 9th CA decision striking it down.
Trying to sort out DOMA: The case has agreed to consider the merits issue of the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3, it has also given itself the option of not deciding that issue. If it finds that neither the Executive Branch could bring its appeal, and that BLAG lacked Art. III standing, then presumably both of those petitions would be denied. At that point, then, the Court might have to consider whether it wants to hear another DOMA case. But that probably would not be done in time for this term’s close.
Prop. 8 is granted on the petition question — whether 14th Am. bars Calif. from defining marriage in traditional way. Plus an added question: Whether the backers of Prop.. 8 have standing in the case under Art. III.
In Windsor, the government petition (12-307) is the one granted. In addition to the petition question — whether Sec. 3 of DOMA violates equal protection under 5th Amendment, there are two other questions: does the fact that government agreed with the 2d CA decision deprive the Court of jurisdiction to hear and decide the case, and whether BLAG (House GOP leaders) has Art. III standing in this case.
There is a good deal of complexity in the marriage orders, but the bottom line is this: the Court has offered to rule on Prop. 8 and on DOMA Section 3, but it also has given itself a way not to decide either case. That probably depends upon how eager the Justices are to get to the merits; if they are having trouble getting to 5 on the merits, they may just opt out through one of the procedural devices they have offered up as potentials.
The arguments very likely will be March 25-27, and a decision is very likely around June 27.
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