What can be expected from the DOMA debate in the Supreme Court today?
On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, and today they will be hearing arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). According to Newser, there are a few things we should expect,
What is today’s case about? DOMA defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, meaning that gay couples who legally wed in states that allow gay marriage are denied federal benefits. The high court must decide if the federal government can constitutionally do that.
How many people are affected? There are about 133,000 married gay couples not currently recognized by the feds, Reuters reports. The Washington Post points out that while yesterday’s case involved people not yet married, today’s involves people who are.
How will yesterday’s session affect today’s? It may not. Yesterday’s case could potentially involve a much broader ruling; the court could theoretically strike down Prop 8 and also extend gay marriage rights to all states. But the justices seemed wary of doing that. So, Reuters notes, that case may have little bearing on today’s, since DOMA is a much narrower question. And, as NPR reports, it’s also “a much clearer question,” and the themes that come up today aren’t likely to be similar to yesterday’s. The only two expected outcomes: Is DOMA constitutional or not?
A decision on DOMA is not expected until sometime in late June, and will be issued around the same as the courts ruling on California’s Proposition 8. There is also the possibility that the court will chose not to rule on DOMA. The Obama administration has refused to defend DOMA, and the court may decide that the House Republican leaders who have taken it upon themselves to defend “have not suffered an injury that would allow them to bring the case,” and therefore may decided not make a decision at all.
Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr