At ten o’clock tomorrow morning, the Justices will hear one hour of oral arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which amended that state’s constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. The Court will then return on Wednesday morning to hear nearly two hours of arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal laws and programs – including things like income taxes, estate taxes, and Social Security survivors’ benefits – as a union between a man and a woman only.
Under any circumstances, the same-sex marriage cases would shine a spotlight squarely on the Court, but that spotlight will be even brighter given the recent coverage of the dramatic growth in public support for same-sex marriage, reflected not only in recent polls but also in statements by Republican Senator Rob Portman – who was on Mitt Romney’s short list for potential vice-presidential candidates – and former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996. Let’s start with the Proposition 8 case – which currently goes by the name of Hollingsworth v. Perry – and talk about the issues in the case in Plain English.
– and talk about the issues in the case in Plain English.