The folks over at ThinkProgress have done a spectacular job on summarizing the very complicated range of possibilities for what could happen this week. As the Supreme Court has historic hearings on both the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8, here’s what you’ll want to look for…
How The Court Could Rule
– A Broad Decision: The best, and most obvious, decision would be for the justices to follow the Constitution and the clear command of precedent and extend marriage equality to all fifty states. It is fairly likely, however, that at least one member of the majority will be too cautious to require Alabama to follow the Constitution, even if they are prepared to order California to do so. If the justices punt on the Alabama question, the important question is whether they hold that anti-gay laws are subject to “heightened scrutiny,” a skeptical kind of constitutional analysis that will make it very difficult for anti-gay discrimination to withstand court review in the future.
— A One-Off: The Ninth Circuit proposed a way to strike down Prop 8 while leaving most other states free to engage in marriage discrimination (the court said that voters were not permitted to withdraw the right to marry once it had been established by the state Supreme Court). The logic of the ruling was thus confined to California. Similarly, two of the Court’s most important gay rights opinions relied on very narrow reasoning that advanced equality only incrementally. It is possible the justices will repeat this performance.
– Jurisdictional Dodges: In both cases, the Court could potentially rule that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, a decision that would cast a cloud of uncertainty over the rights of gay couples.
– A Stealth Attack: Several prominent conservatives are pushing a dangerous legal theory that would strike down DOMA on states’ rights grounds, and potentially endanger Social Security, veterans benefits and progressive taxation in the process.
– A Loss: Ultimately, however, it is important to remember that this is a severely conservative Court, and even so-called swing vote Justice Kennedy is a severely conservative justice. Equality could lose.”
They even go into detail to examine the histories of the Conservative judges. Remember how the court is currently tipped 5 to 4 in favor of Conservative views? Oh yeah, how could we forget?? Well anyway, be sure to check it out.