Constitution Daily

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Supreme Court sets timing for same-sex marriage rulings

June 25, 2013 by Scott Bomboy


Without saying it directly on Tuesday, the Supreme Court set the day and time for its historic rulings on same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Photo by Flickr user Fibonacci Blue
Photo by Flickr user Fibonacci Blue

With three cases left unannounced, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that June 26 will be the last day the Court is in session. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy are expected to be involved in the two cases about same-sex marriage.

Since those two justices are among the last to read opinions, based on the court’s pecking order, the decisions should start being read between 10:05 a.m. EDT and 10:10 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Last year, the Court held its decision about the Affordable Care Act until its final day, causing a media frenzy that left some major media outlets dazed and confused about the court’s ruling.

On Wednesday, expect an equal amount of media attention on a widely publicized pair of cases that have plenty of twists and turns.

In Windsor v. U.S., the Court will decide if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for people of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their state.

In the case, the Second Circuit ruled that DOMA perpetuates “discrimination” against gays and that the law is unconstitutional when subject to intermediate scrutiny.

After the decision in the Second Circuit, the Department of Justice decided to stop defending DOMA because it believed it was unconstitutional.

That opened the question for the justices whether the court even had jurisdiction because the government wasn’t defending the law.

In Perry, the justices will decide if the state of California can define marriage as the union of only a man and a woman without violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

This case challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.  The proposition passed in 2008 to amend the state constitution to limit marriage to same-sex couples. The case challenges the proposition on equal protection and due process grounds.

Significantly, Governor Jerry Brown refused to defend the constitutionality of the law, which opened up a standing question for the group seeking to defend it.

The partnership of long-time Supreme Court litigators David Boies and Theodore Olson, who litigated on opposite sides of Bush v Gore, has attracted a lot of attention in the case.

The Court is expected to issue rulings that reference both cases.

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