Showdown: Supreme Court Sets Dates for Marriage Equality Cases

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The nation’s highest court has announced that it will hear two days worth of oral arguments in two separate cases that challenge anti-marriage equality laws. Both cases could make sweeping impacts on marriage laws in all fifty states.

The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is a direct challenge to California’s discriminatory Prop 8 law forbidding same-sex marriages. It was filed on behalf of two couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in May 2009. Last February, the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 26th.

The second case, United States v. Windsor, challenges the federal government’s denial of benefits to legally married gay and lesbian couples under a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

According to the Kent College of Law, “The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law, the words “marriage” and “spouse” refer to legal unions between one man and one woman. Since that time, some states have authorized same-sex marriage. In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the rationale.”

Scotusblog reports that the judges will be deciding,”(1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State; (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.”

The Justices will question lawyers for each side at hearings scheduled to last an hour each.

Look for high court rulings, on both cases, sometime before the end of June.

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