By Donald Scarinci | December 13th, 2012 - 10:46am
| More

Same-sex marriage joins obamacare as the two most important social issues the United States Supreme Court will consider this term.  The decision in both matters may well come down to just one person.

The first case, United States v. Windsor, considers whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman under federal law, violates the equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment. The second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, involves California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2008.

Although Supreme Court justices are required to rule on the legal issues and evidence before them, they do not make decisions in a vacuum. Therefore, many are speculating whether the changing tide of public opinion in favor of same-sex marriage will sway the Supreme Court.

Just this November, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved laws legalizing same-sex marriage. They became the first states to approve the unions via the ballot box, rather than through a legislative amendment or court order.

The growing acceptance of same-sex marriage highlights that the American public will accept a Supreme Court decision striking down California’s same-sex marriage ban or overturning DOMA. However, voter approval could also cut the other way.

The increasing number of states legalizing same-sex marriage on their own could be used as evidence to support arguments against addressing it on the federal level. Opponents like the National Organization for Marriage are already pointing to the election results as proof that states can and should be allowed to work through the issue on their own. They also point to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage as proof that discrimination is against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans is waning.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has shown a willingness to step in to protect equal rights, regardless of where the American public or the states stand on an issue. In the 1967 decision of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage. At that point, only 16 states still prohibited marriage between blacks and whites. However, 70 percent of Americans opposed such unions.

Justice Roberts was the deciding vote in the obamacare case last term.  Will he be the person who ultimately decides the fate of same-sex marriage?   

 

Donald Scarinci is a managing partner at Lyndhurst, N.J. based law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck.  He is also the editor of the Constitutional Law Reporter and Government and Law blogs.

 

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 18, 2014

Fulop endorses Smith in Bayonne mayoral raceBAYONNE - Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop parachuted into the Bayonne mayoral race on Thursday night by endorsing incumbent Mayor Mark Smith."It is a pleasure to be with you here, Mark," said Fulop to a crowd of more than 125 supporters at a...

Op-Ed

The future of NJ Politics should not be politicians investigating politicians

By JON BRAMNICK Voices around the country agree with our concern that "bipartisan committee led by John Wisniewski is partisan." Below are observers who agree Wisneiwski's committee is not bipartisan: Chuck Todd, NBC News: "Democrats made a mistake... Read More >

Contributors

(4-16-14) New Jersey Vote By Mail Law - The voter turnout for New Jersey’s November gubernatorial election was the lowest since the days of prohibition, coming... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop

- PolitickerNJ.com

Poll

Which is the most competitive of these May 13th elections?:

Resources

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources