Supremes Take Up Marriage Equality Cases

Took a while, but it’s happening, per this report from The Hill‘s Sam Baker (who beat SCOTUSBlog to the punch):

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — the federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The court also agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging California’s statewide ban on same-sex marriage.

These two cases are not as similar as the media reports will sometimes suggest:

Supporters of same-sex marriage are optimistic about the chances the court will strike down DOMA, making all marriages equal in the eyes of federal law. It would be an historic ruling, and one of the most significant civil-rights decisions in the court’s history.

The challenge to California’s Proposition 8 goes a step further, providing the court with an opening to declare that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The justices will consider whether the 14th Amendment bars California from enforcing a law that prevents same-sex couples from marrying.

And the results could differ as well:

Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen as likely to side with the court’s liberal bloc on DOMA, but his views on Proposition 8 are harder to predict.

Looks like oral arguments will be heard in the spring, with a decision likely in the summer.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.