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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has just announced that they are refusing to define marriage in the Hollingsworth vs. Perry Prop 8 gay marriage case.
Today’s 5-4 decision represents a very strange consensus alliance among liberals and conservatives on both sides of the Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion and was joined by his fellow conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, as well as liberal justices, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan.
The dissenting opinion was written by the swing justice, Kennedy, and he was joined by conservatives, Alito and Thomas, as well as the liberal justice, Sotomayor.
Here is some background and the primary issues of the case.
Mr. Hollingsworth is the CA State Senator who championed a popular ballot initiative called Prop 8 to amend California’s Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Mr. Hollingsworth’s amendment passed with public support, but the state of CA refused to actually enforce the amendment. Mr. Hollingsworth appeared before the Court to ask the justices to make CA enforce the law.
Ms. Perry is a lesbian and CA resident. Ms. Perry wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that marriage is gender neutral federal civil right.
At the end of the day, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant got what they wanted from SCOTUS because the majority ruled that the petitioner, Mr. Hollingsworth, had no standing to appear before the court to argue his case in the first place.
The majority stated that CA would have had to send the state’s attorney general or someone empowered to speak on behalf of the state to argue the case before SCOTUS.
However, since the state is refusing to actually enforce Prop 8, the majority decided that they could not make the state enforce Prop 8.
The bottom line of the ruling is that the Court refused to even discuss the Constitutionality of gay marriage because the plaintiff who brought the case before the court lacked the official standing to do so.
CA is likely to simply resume issuing marriage licenses to gay couples at once.