Friday, December 07, 2012

Supreme Court Will Review 2 Same-Sex Marriage Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in two same-sex marriage cases. (Order List.) The first of the cases is Hollingsworth v. Perry, (Docket No. 12-144, cert. granted 12/7/2012).  In the case, decided by the 9th Circuit under the caption Perry v. Brown, the appeals court in a 2-1 decision struck down California's Proposition 8 that eliminated the right-- previously created by the California Supreme Court's interpretation of the state constitution-- for same-sex couples to marry. Judge Reinhardt, in an opinion joined by Judge Hawkins, held that even though California may not have had the obligation to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, once it did, it could not take that right away without some legitimate reason for doing so. Here there was no legitimate reason. (See prior posting.) En banc review was denied, but in a decision generating dissenting and responding opinions. (See prior posting.) The certiorari petition (full text), however frames the issue more broadly:
Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Scotus blog has links to the 9th Circuit opinion and all the filings with the Supreme Court in the case.

The second case in which the Supreme Court granted review is United States v. Windsor, (Docket No. 12-307, cert. granted 12.7/2012).  In the case, the 2nd Circuit in a 2-1 decision held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional under the equal protection component of the 5th Amendment. In a suit by the surviving spouse of a lesbian couple who was denied the spousal deduction under the federal estate tax law, the majority held that it must apply heightened (intermediate level) scrutiny because homosexuals are a quasi-suspect classification. (See prior posting.) The petition for certiorari (full text)-- which was filed before the 2nd Circuit came down with its decision-- defines the question presented as:
Does Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,  1 U.S.C. § 7, which defines the term “marriage” for all purposes under federal law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,”  deprive same-sex couples  who are lawfully married under the laws of their states (such as New York) of the equal protection of the laws, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?
Scotus blog has links to the 2nd Circuit opinion and all the filings with the Supreme Court in the case.

Press coverage of the Supreme Court's action today included the New York Times, Yahoo! News, and Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE: See follow-up post- "More On Yesterday's Same-Sex Marriage Cases Cert. Grant- Standing".