Monday :: Oct 6, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage and 2014

by Deacon Blues

To the surprise of many, the Supreme Court today started its new term by refusing to act upon lower-court rejections of same-sex marriage bans. By not taking up even one challenge of the potential cases before them, the court let stand circuit court rulings against state bans on same-sex marriage, thereby allowing the lower-court rulings to take effect and enable same-sex marriage in the states affected.

The conventional wisdom amongst court observers is that the Court felt it unnecessary to weigh in on the matter when all circuit court cases to date have agreed that such bans are unconstitutional. Under this thinking, once a conservative circuit goes against the consensus so far and issues a ruling supporting a state's ban on same-sex marriage, then the Court will take up that case and rule. Since some of the circuits yet to decide are conservative districts, it can be assumed that today's actions will only encourage right-wing judicial activism on that circuit or circuits, and a case or cases will make their way to the SCOTUS perhaps for the next session.

But today's decisions also make it clear that the justices weren't sure they had the votes to rule against same-sex marriage. It takes four votes amongst the nine justices to have a case scheduled for the court's docket in that session. Today's action means that there wasn't at least four conservatives who wanted to consider overturning the lower court rulings (liberals had no reason to want the cases heard since all lower-court decisions so far had sided with same-sex marriage).

And if you wanted to know what spark could drive gay voters to the polls next month to vote for Democratic senators, you just saw it.

Deacon Blues :: 2:22 PM :: Comments (1) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!