The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning on the consolidation of appeals of rulings in same-sex marriage cases around the country.
scotusblog.com live blogged the action here.
Comments from the justices seemed to follow along expected lines, though I note this reporting on comments by Justice Anthony Kennedy, viewed as the potential swing vote for marriage equality.
Justice Kennedy said he had “a word on his mind .. and that word is millennia”
He pointed out that the definition of marriage had prevailed for millennia and it seemed a fast change; on the other hand, he noted that the time between Lawrence and this case was about equal to the time between Brown and Loving — this raised the question for him of whether this might all be too fast to redefine such a long standing institution
Commentators have also noted liberal Justice Stephen Breyer’s question of the plaintiffs’ attorney about leaving the decision to the states. The lawyer made the point that the choice is not only between the court and states, but also involves a decision on the part of the people who wish to marry.
And what of the sometimes pivotal Chief Justice John Roberts? A comment on scotusblog:
If court decides, said Roberts “there will be no more debate” on same-sex marriage, which “can close minds.”
When it was defenders of the ban’s turn for questions, Kennedy had questions more heartening (more scotusblog analysis):
He said that his sense was that a principal purpose of marriage was to afford dignity to the couples, which is denied to same-sex couples.
He also said that he thought that the fact that same-sex couples raise adopted children cut strongly against the state’s arguments.
That said, the balance between Justice Kennedy’s comments in the first and second halves of the argument leaves things in a state of flux. You couldn’t confidently predict the outcome.
He is clearly weighing two things: the definition of marriage has been the same for “millennia” versus the fact that denying marriage to same-sex couples is an affront to their dignity (and that of the children they raise) – See more at:
And the chief justice also asked this question, which could give comfort to marriage equality supporters: He asked whether bans on same-sex marriage amount to sex discrimination.
Here’s the first write-through by the New York Times.
Recording of the oral arguments available at this link.
- PS: You’ll undoubtedly be happy to know that a Mike Huckabee support filed an amicus brief today in opposition to equality. Among others, it says judicial supremacy is hooey. Fear not. As a scotusblog link his news release mentions, there are dozens of amicus briefs and most are ignored by the Supreme Court.