The U.S. Supreme Court certainly kept court-watchers in suspense: the last few days in June had almost everyone guessing as to when the rulings in the blockbuster cases would be released and what they would be.
The Blockbusters: Sex and Race
Judging from the media coverage, the most closely watched and eagerly anticipated decisions were the two same-sex marriage rulings, Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144, and United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307, addressing, respectively, a question regarding standing to defend Proposition 8 (a ballot initiative passed by California voters that amended the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and woman) and the validity of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738. The Court released its decisions in both cases on June 26. The petitioners in Hollingsworth—regardless of how deeply felt their commitment to upholding Proposition 8 was—were found to lack a particularized interest sufficient to create a case or controversy under Article III, and thus, standing. In Windsor, the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3, that defined “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman, was held to be unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. Although the Court invalidated Section 3, a provision in the Act, Section 2, remains in force and provides that no state “shall be required to give effect to” a same-sex relationship that is treated as a marriage under the laws of another state, or a right or claim arising from such a relationship.