The nation’s highest court decided on Friday to take up two cases from lower courts regarding same-sex marriage.
One of the cases involves California’s Proposition 8, a measure that outlaws same-sex marriage in the state. It was approved by California voters in 2008.
Now, the Supreme Court will hear the case and decide on whether the 14th Amendment prohibits California from passing such a ban. A federal appeals court struck down the law in California and ruled it unconstitutional in February. A “staying order” issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals halted the unconstitutional ruling, leaving the proposition intact for the time being.
In July, Proposition 8 supporters filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking the court to review the case in hopes of having the measure permanently reinstated.
The court has also decided to hear a case on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal act that denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages in states that have legalized the practice. Federal appeals courts in Massachusetts and New York have both struck down the law in their states.
The decision by the court to hear both cases did not come as a suprise to David Codell, the legal director of the Williams Institute ““ a think tank at the UCLA School of Law that conducts legal research and analysis of gender identity law and public policy.
“Any time a federal court of appeals strikes down an amendment to a state’s constitution, the case is going to be heard in the Supreme Court,” Codell said.
Codell said the court has several options when it comes to Proposition 8, specifically. First, the court can decide whether or not it is a “live case,” meaning the proponents of the proposition have legal standing to continue the challenge. It could possibly dismiss the appeal entirely if it decides they (proponents of the proposition) do not have standing, he added.
The court could also decide in favor of the current ruling, which would align more with principles set historically, Codell said.
By applying the ruling to all states, the court would answer the big question about same-sex marriage on the national level, he added.
The court plans to start hearing both cases in spring 2013, with decisions expected to be announced in June, according to the Associated Press.
Contributing reports by Christopher Hurley, Bruin contributor.
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