Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Has the Supreme Court tipped its hand on gay marriage?

Yes, according to Adam Liptak:

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday not to delay same-sex marriage in Alabama offered the strongest signal yet that gay rights advocates are likely to prevail in coming months in their decades-long quest to establish a nationwide constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

The court's decision came with a blistering dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas, who criticized his fellow justices for looking “the other way” as another federal court pushes aside state laws, rather than taking the customary course of leaving the laws in place until the court addresses larger constitutional issues.

Since October, when the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriages in five states, it has denied requests to stay orders requiring other states to let gay and lesbian couples marry. Largely as a consequence of the court’s inaction, the number of states with same-sex marriage expanded to 37 from 19, along with the District of Columbia, in just four months.

Last month, the court agreed to hear four same-sex marriage cases. They will be argued in April and probably decided in late June.

In dissenting from the unsigned order in the Alabama case on Monday, Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, suggested that the court was poised to establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a question the court ducked in a pair of decisions in 2013.

Justice Thomas accused the majority of an “indecorous” and “cavalier” attitude in refusing to maintain the status quo in Alabama at least until the Supreme Court issues its decision in the four pending cases.

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