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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SCOTUS Hears Same Sex Marriage Cases Today

We've been watching the gay-marriage case, Hollingsworth v Perry, for two years; here's a link to our first post detailing case.  Two well-funded homosexual couples from California, one gay, one lesbian, challenged California's proposition 8 in federal court back in 2008, and the case finally will be orally argued tomorrow at the SCOTUS.

Their lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies of Bush v Gore fame, are well-suited to the task of bringing the couples' privacy-based arguments to the Supreme Court.  Olson was Solicitor General under President Bush; he appears to have changed his stripes for this one.

Since that original post, two other consolidated federal cases have made their way through the federal court system and will be argued before the SCOTUS on Wednesday.  United States v Windsor challenges the denial of federal benefits for gay couples under the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA].

As many as 17 states have filed amicus briefs in opposition to gay marriage.  Court watchers are bracing for a seminal ruling along the order of the High Court's Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Others say, "not so fast."  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one such voice.  She has made a series of public comments lately critical of such sweeping decisions; they go too far too fast says Ginsburg.

A less judicially active approach in the Roe v Wade would have been to strike down the Texas anti-abortion law on an "as applied" basis, but leaving the broader constitutional questions to be determined on a state-by-state basis.  Of course, this is not what the Roe v Wade Court did; the political and cultural fall-out continues to this day.

Considering possible outcomes in the gay-marriage cases being argued today, the post-modern SCOTUS faces the choice of invalidating California's Proposition 8, and if they do, whether they do so in a broad or narrow fashion.  Expect concurring and dissenting opinions; perhaps even a plurality decision which, by its nature, has a less-binding effect on subsequent courts.

Either way, we will keep our readers posted when the decision is announced at some point in June like we did when New York legalized same-sex marriage in June of 2011.  The results from these cases will be important to Michigan which, like California, passed a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be a status limited to heterosexual couples.

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