Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supreme Court seems likely to rule narrowly on Proposition 8, given the course of oral arguments today

The best account of the oral arguments on California Proposition 8 on same-sex marriage today in front of the Supreme Court seems to be the blog of Jeffrey Toobin of CNN, link here

Conservative justices Alito and Scalia seemed fine with letting states experiment, saying “we don’t know the effect of same-sex parents on children”. 

Justice Kagan reportedly made a bizarre suggestion that same-sex marriage be made invalid after the age at which children can be born, since there was so much concern over both the effect on children, and on the idea that society needs to invest incentives for family-centered procreation.  She was probably speaking in irony.  Actually, the children of same-sex couples would face discrimination under Prop 8 (the reverse of what was argued).

There was a general consensus among reporters that Justice Kennedy would be the swing vote, and is unlikely to want to decide the issue too much one way or another.  But there is another question as to whether a state’s voters can overturn what a state supreme court has deemed a “fundamental right”, apart from the way that question relates to how people feel about gay rights or gay marriage.  What if the issue were slavery or segregation instead?

ABC affiliate WJLA reports that widespread demonstrations, though quiet, moved to the Mall after the argument ended shortly before noon, in very chilly and windy weather, and muddy from yesterday’s snow.
NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams is also writing that a sweeping ruling on gay marriage is unlikely, given the course of questions today, link here

Will the presence of Justice Roberts’s lesbian cousin have a psychological effect?  The Los Angeles Times has a story here.

Charles Cooper, arguing for Proposition 8, conceded that opposition to gay marriage is likely to fail in the long run, as reported by the Huffington Post, here

Although I haven't been there recently to get an updated picture, the Supreme Court Building appears to be undergoing extensive renovation. 

A link to the Oral Argument transcript will be posted here as soon as it is available at "supremecourt.gov".

Update. March 27:  Oral arguments and transcripts are in a separate location at the bottom of the web page.  "Final" versions of the arguments will be posted in the normal place on Friday, March 29.  Here is the link for March 26,  Hollingsworth v. Perry.

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