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Supreme Court tackles Prop 8, DOMA


This week the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against Proposition 8, a California law that bans same-sex marriages, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law defining marriage as between a man and woman.

USA Today’s Supreme Court reporter Richard Wolfe and The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen talked about the case with Thomas Roberts Saturday.

At one point in the Supreme Court arguments, Justice Elena Kagan stopped to clarify an excerpt in the 1996 House Report on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. “I’m going to quote from the House Report here–is that ‘Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.’ Is that what happened in 1996?” A clear questioning of the constitutionality of the law.

Wolfe described the moment as a possible tipping point for four of the justices, but not all. Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the swing vote, suggested that he would be willing to throw DOMA out based on state’s rights, but Wolfe points out that this might put him in hot water with Proposition 8, where the state expresses its will through the voters.

The panel discusses what type of decision the Court might come to. They could dismiss the case all together, as “improvidently granted,” according to Rosen, or they could make a sweeping judgment that affects the entire country.

A decision might not be made until June.