US: Supreme Court meeting to discuss same-sex marriage cases

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Supreme Court justices are meeting today to consider taking up one of several same-sex marriage cases.

A number of appeals from lower courts are pending Supreme Court review – but justices have discretion as to whether they want to take a case, and will decide today as they consider their caseload.

The Supreme Court had declined to intervene in the issue in October, with Justice Ginsburg claiming there was “no need” for them to get involved while all courts found in favour of marriage equality.

However, since the last conference, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against same-sex marriage – creating what is known as a ‘circuit split’.

A circuit split is an effective discrepancy in US law, and resolving splits is one of the most important factors for the Justices to consider when reviewing cases.

As such, activists are hopeful that the court will finally opt to take up a case – and set in motion events that could lead to a final, conclusive ruling on same-sex marriage across the United States.

Politicians and activists on both sides of the debate have called for the Supreme Court takes up a case – to provide a clear decision amid dozens of ongoing legal battles.

Freedom to Marry said: “It is more important than ever that the nation’s highest court take up a marriage case and end marriage discrimination – every day that same-sex couples are denied, real American families are hurt, and the only way to end this unfair treatment is for the Supreme Court to act. ”

Bill Duncan, of the Marriage Law Foundation said: “If you live in some of the states, the Constitution is interpreted to say you have the ability as a state to decide what your own marriage laws are, and in just a little over half in the others, you don’t have that under, presumably, the same Constitution.

“They’ve got to clarify what they meant in 2013 in the decision that’s led to all of the cases. So I think clearly they need to do something.”

The court’s decision should be made clear in the coming days or weeks.

The last ruling was in 2013’s United States v Windsor, when the court partially repealed the anti-gay federal Defense of Marriage Act.