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Posted by on Dec 7, 2012 in Featured, Law, Politics | 5 comments

Supreme Court To Hear Both DOMA And Proposition 8 Cases

News just breaking that the United States Supreme Court will hear both the DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8 cases.

The next step will be for the Court to issue a scheduling order in both cases which will set the timeline for when arguments will be heard. However this does mean that a ruling on both issues will be issued during this court term, or by June/July of 2013.

The best guess at this point is they would hear arguments during the March sitting which runs from March 18-27.

Obviously this story will be developing over the coming days as the court issues more detailed instructions to the parties but in the Proposition 8 case it appears they want to hear arguments over whether or not the supporters have standing under Article III.

This issue deals with the fact that in the appeal of the ruling striking down Proposition 8 nobody from the State of California (IE governor or attorney general) chose to defend the law. There is considerable question as to whether or not private citizens can step in and defend the case. Indeed in a case involving an Arizona law that the government chose not to defend the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that private citizens do not have standing to intervene and defend a law.

In the event that the court determined that the supporters did not have standing then the case would become moot and the original ruling holding Proposition 8 to be invalid would stand.

Regarding DOMA, the court is hearing the appeal on the issues relating to whether the federal government can deny benefits to same sex couples who are legally married under state laws. It is not considering whether or not the section of DOMA that allows one state to refuse to recognize a same sex union from another state. So even if DOMA is struck down in this case it would not mean Alabama has to recognize marriages from Vermont.

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  • Rambie

    With the conservative tilt of the current court I’m more than a little worried.

  • zephyr

    My confidence in this court is also very low.

  • PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor

    I would not be so sure, remember Roberts on ACA.

    Also it is arguably easier for conservatives to strike DOMA than liberals. DOMA is in violation of the enumerated powers provision of the Constitution and a conservative could strike the law on that basis. A liberal justice would generally not adhere to this theory and thus would need another reason to do so.

  • Patrick is insinuating, and I agree, that this case puts the conservatives in a bit of a spot. They like limits on power, this speaks an undo extension of that limit, it woild seem they almost have to rule against it for consistency.

  • Dr. J

    Well, only if “conservatives” were a single species, Barky. This is a constitutionally conservative court, not a socially conservative one. So there’s no chance they’ll support DOMA on the grounds that marriage needs defending. They might support it on a principle of judicial deference, even while acknowledging it has no rational basis.

    I’d hope they’d overturn it on the jurisdictional grounds Patrick mentions–that is, by asking pesky questions about what it has to do with interstate commerce. It would be a double-edged decision similar to ACA: liberals would rejoice that the court had done the “right thing”, yet it would undermine decades of precedents legitimizing expansive federal government.

    As far as marriage goes, it matters little either way. DOMA is a cultural dinosaur, soon to go extinct on its own.

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