I was afraid of this. They aren't ready. It sounds like they're not going to take the Prop 8 case at all because of the standing issue. If that happens, gay marriage will be legal in California but would not apply to any other state. Interestingly, if this does happen would this establish a precedent that any state that currently has gay marriage could not outlaw it (this was basically the verdict in the Walker courtroom, that a state could not take away a right that has been granted, ie, gay marriage) ?
This is really our best hope for the Prop 8 case IMO. (And, the initial ruling was written explicitly to only pertain to California. Walker and the Ninth Circuit structured it this way.)
If they do toss the case and not issue a broad ruling it will be much to the delight of Democrats who see this as a winning issue going forward, and much to the chagrin of the GOP (whether they admit it or not) knowing their party will be accused of intolerance (further alienating them from the majority (some polls suggest 80%) of young Americans.
In a historic oral argument on a challenge to state laws that limit marriage to heterosexual couples, the Supreme Court indicated Tuesday that it might not strike down such laws.
The justice whom many observers view as the swing vote in the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy, voiced worry at one point during the argument that proponents of same-sex marriages were asking the court to issue a decision that would “go into uncharted waters.”
After the oral argument, Pete Williams of NBC News reported that it seemed “quite obvious that the U.S. Supreme Court is not prepared to issue any kind of sweeping ruling” declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
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Williams said there seemed to be “very little eagerness” from any of the justices to “embrace that broad a ruling.”
At issue Tuesday was California’s Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment enacted by voters in 2008 that limits marriage to one man-one woman couples. Those seeking to have the court strike down Proposition 8 argue that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a right for same-sex couples to marry.
Williams said that both the liberal and the conservative justices seemed wary of issuing a decision that would apply to any state outside of California.
It seemed possible the court would not issue any ruling on marriage at all – deciding instead that it had made a mistake in even agreeing to hear the case since the plaintiffs, supporters of Proposition 8, might lack the legal standing to bring the suit.
“I just wonder if the case was properly granted,” Kennedy said at one point to attorney Theodore Olson who was representing those challenging the California law.
This post was edited on 3/26 at 2:45 pm