Supreme Court Appears Unwilling to Legalize Gay Marriage Nationwide

Published on March 28, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 8.19.18 AMWashington, D.C.—The Supreme Court heard oral argument today on California’s 2008 ballot initiative Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution in order to forbid gay marriage. The upshot appears to be that while a majority of the Court believes Prop. 8 to be misguided, including both the four liberal justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy, those justices are not willing to strike Prop. 8 down as unconstitutional and therefore legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. As Justice Kennedy declared in perhaps the most significant statement of the morning, this case asks the Court “to go into uncharted waters.”

Kennedy’s comments are certain to disappoint gay marriage advocates. As the author of the Court’s rulings in both Romer v. Evans (1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Kennedy is one of the Court’s strongest voices in favor of gay rights. Yet he gave no indication this morning that he saw the case against Prop. 8 as a proper vehicle for establishing a sweeping win for gay marriage. In addition to referring to the “odd” rationale of the federal appellate court ruling against Prop. 8, Kennedy wondered whether the Supreme Court should have even agreed to hear the Prop. 8 case in the first place. “I just wonder,” Kennedy said, “if the case was properly granted.”

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