Civil and Human Rights

Justices Take Up Marriage Challenges

Bans on same-sex unions set for arguments in April.


By Marcia Coyle


The U.S. Supreme Court stepped into a historic legal, political and social debate on Jan. 16 when it agreed to decide whether states can prohibit same-sex marriages without violating the federal Constitution.


The addition of the same-sex marriage issue to a docket that already includes a high-stakes challenge to the federal health care reform law almost guarantees another potentially landmark term for the Roberts Court.


The justices granted review in four pending cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld bans on marriage and the recognition of out-of-state marriages in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The justices directed briefing on both the marriage and recognition issues.


Arguments before the high court will be in April with a decision by the end of June….


Reaction to the high court’s grant of review was swift. Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, called the justices’ announcement “a key milestone” in the gay and lesbian movement for full equality. “The nation will soon see if Chief Justice Roberts is on the right side of the Constitution, not to mention the right side of history, when the court hands down its decision,” she said….

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