Supreme Court [declines to hear] same sex marriage cases.[plus further developments (Ed.)]

This is breaking news. Can someone break down what this means for the fight for same sex marriage.

I can’t find much online about this yet.

It means the bans that were overturned and then stayed pending appeals by the State AGs will continue to be overturned , so I think it means some more states (5?) will have gay marriage effective immediately, and you should see a lot more challenges soon - I think, I’m not a lawyer or even in the US. Overall, this is a good thing, but not the best possible outcome.

So, according to HuffPo, it means immediate gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, and they say this means in 6 other states “in short order” (I’m assuming states in the same federal appeals districts? circuit courts, I think you call them.) - which would mean SSM in 30 states + DC ! Just like that, it’s the majority of states. But they still won’t have made a national ruling.

Thanks MrDibble.

As much as this is technically good news, I’m more than a little disappointed in the supreme court for passing the buck on this. I mean, is there any way to get them to rule on this at all? It’s a little ridiculous, honestly - this is one of the most pressing legal issues currently in debate, and they have no less than 3 state courts demanding answers, and they just say “no”? What’s it gonna take?

Isn’t not taking a case, basically, ruling on it in the sense that it is saying there’s no merit in the challenge?

A few deaths, I’d think. There’s no way some of those guys are going to rule on this unless literally forced at gunpoint - it’s the lovely interplay between wanting to be on what they clearly can see is the right side of history, and wanting to side with “their” side of the political spectrum.

Presumably a district court or two disagreeing with the current consensus. As I understand it, all the current district court rulings agree with each other so there’s nothing to smooth out except a desire to have one overall marriage equality ruling rather than several.


The SC has repeatedly stated that a denial of Certiorari does NOT constitute a ruling on the merits.

A better title would be “Supreme Court denies all **challenges to **same sex marriage cases” or similar.

As I understand it: They don’t need to rule at this point because these 5 states went in the direction that the majority of cases are going. When a case that affirms an anti-same sex marriage position gets to this level, they’ll probably hear it because it demonstrates a dissenting opinion that requires clarification from a higher body.

This non-ruling is really the best ruling we’re likely to get out of the current Supreme Court. And it lets gay marriage become a noncontroversial reality across most of the nation. Those are ‘facts on the ground,’ as they used to say, that are hard to undo.

Then by the time gays are getting married in ~45 states, the Supremes will deign to invoke the Full Faith and Credit clause, and let the remaining states know that they have to recognize as valid any marriage from any other state.

(Aside to Inner Stickler: I think you meant circuit courts, not district courts. Right idea otherwise.)

Right, only recently did a district court in Louisiana rule for the state ban to stand, if the circuit upholds that then you’d have a conflict. The SC seems as they’d rather “let it happen” than force a confrontation.

So they’re just saying ain’t got time for that?

I’m a big SSM supporter, but I find this disappointing in the sense that the Windsor decision wasn’t really all that clear and this could have been a good chance for the Court to maybe clarify that a bit. As in, I’m not 100% sure that it really extends to what the District Courts have been saying about it. Since it only takes four Justices to grant certiorari, I guess no faction on the Court trusts what Kennedy would do.

But I don’t see how same-sex marriage opponents come back from this one. We’ll have gay marriage in Utah and Oklahoma now, of all places. Is there really going to be any ability a few years from now to revoke that? And to try to “un-marry” tens of thousands of people? It’s just not going to happen.

Question about the ruling: How immediate does this make the gay marriages in those 5 states that appealed to the SCOTUS? Immediate like tomorrow? Or does someone in a court somewhere get to say “Marriages can start again in XXX date”?

Also, does the SCOTUS get to take back their decision? Its the start of the court season, can they change their mind a 2 months and say they do want to hear a gay marriage case?

Wasn’t there one case that ruled against gay marriage? Forgot the state, but they ruled against it in some novel way. I believe it was still dreadfully terrible logic, but not the typical dreadfully terrible logic that most states have used up until this point

Yes, I did mean circuit courts. Thank you for the correction.

With a little luck, the SCOTUS will take up gay marriage only after Scalia has become an ex-justice. Or is that former justice? Take your pick.

I am curious about this as well. All the articles I found said something to the effect of “gay couples will be able to wed almost immediately” but I’d like to know a bit more about the actual process. Does a court somewhere have to officially unstay the decision or do they automatically expire once the right condition is met?

SC decision’s do NOT have an effective time such as a law passed may have a 90 day enforcement time, they are immediate.

Basically a PUNT, yes. Mainly equal to a dismissal for want of a substantial federal question, as was Baker v. Nelson (SSM) 1971, the USSC ruling on Minnesota’s SC’s decision. However in B v. N that was precedential in nature.