The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet released its decisions in two cases involving marriage as the definition of a union between one man and one woman. There are six cases total left on the Court’s docket to be decided this week, after which the Court will recess until October. The marriage decisions could be released as early as Tuesday, or it could be as late as Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
We’re waiting on two historic decisions that involve the definition of marriage: The California marriage amendment, known as Prop 8, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines “marriage” and “spouse” for purposes of more than 1100 federal laws, regulations and programs.
The challenges involve a couple “big” questions of constitutional law:
1) Does the U.S. Constitution require either the state or federal government to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples
2) Does the Constitution forbid the federal government from defining marriage at all?
In addition to the “big” questions, there are a couple items which may prevent the Court from ever getting to the “big” issues. In both cases, the Court is examining whether the “proper” parties brought the appeal — known as “standing.”
With that introduction, here are some possible outcomes:
– Win. The Court upholds Prop 8. This means the Constitution does not require same-sex marriage to be forced on the states, and the definition of marriage will remain with each state.
– Loss. The Court decides the Constitution forbids states from defining marriage as only one man and one woman. Like Roe v. Wade, this would impose a judicially created “right” on every state, touching off another decades-long round in the culture war.
– Partial loss. The Court may dismiss the appeal on “standing,” which would send the case back to California. This could result in same-sex marriage being required in California only, or the entire case may be re-litigated — or something in between.
– Win. The Court decides the federal government has a legitimate interest in defining the terms it uses, and that the Constitution does not require the government to recognize same-sex marriage. States would remain free to define marriage, but the federal government would continue recognizing only one-man, one-woman marriage.
– Loss. The Court decides either that the federal government is bound by the marriage definitions of each of the 50 states, or that the Constitution requires it to recognize same-sex marriage. The first scenario would impact only the states that have created same-sex marriage, although all federal taxpayers would in effect be subsidizing same-sex federal benefits in those states. The second scenario would touch off a new wave of lawsuits designed to force a 50-state imposition of same-sex marriage.
– Procedural dismissal. The Court may dismiss the appeal on “standing” — and that could play out several ways: It may mean a limited federal recognition of some same-sex marriages in some states, or the Court may decide to hear another DOMA case waiting in the wings. Or something else.
These are just a few of the possibilities we might see next week. The Supreme Court is known for surprising us with decisions that no one suspected. Win, lose or draw, however, those of us who support God’s design for marriage as the best environment for raising children will continue to carry our message to a world that is thirsty for truth.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “U.S. Supreme Court To Hear DOMA, Proposition 8 Cases.”
Read “Marriage Arguments Scheduled at the Supreme Court.”
Read “Five Questions and Answers About the Same-Sex Marriage,”