The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken: on Friday, it announced that it will hear oral arguments in two cases dealing with same-sex marriage.
Hollingsworth v. Perry is the case involving California’s Prop. 8, the Proposition that banned gay marriage in the state. There are two questions presented here: 1) whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause prohibits the state from denying marriage to same-sex couples; and 2) whether the petitioners have standing. Although many expect the Court to decide the first question, it is entirely possible that the Court will opt to decide the case simply on the second question, thus avoiding the politics of the gay marriage debate.
In the second case, United States v. Windsor, there are three issues at hand: 1) whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State”; 2) whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to decide the case in light of the Executive Branch’s agreement with the lower court that DOMA (Section 3) is unconstitutional; and 3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives has standing. As in Hollingsworth, it is possible that the Court will attempt to avoid the gay marriage question specifically by deciding the case based on one of the other issues.
The Court will hear oral arguments in March 2013 and plans to issue its ruling in June 2013. [REG]