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Report: Supreme Court Likely to Dismiss Proposition 8 Gay Marriage Case Entirely (a Big Win for Same-Sex Couples)

"#prop8 unlikely to be upheld; either struck down or #scotus won’t decide case."

People queue to enter the Supreme Court in Washington on March 25, 2013. The justices will hear arguments on March 26 on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and on March 27 on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

  • Oral arguments were held at the Supreme Court Tuesday regarding California's anti-same-sex-marriage law, Proposition 8
  • Those present for the arguments suggest that the reaction of swing-justice Anthony Kennedy means the case is likely to be dismissed entirely
  • Dismissal would uphold a lower court ruling from the 9th circuit that invalidated the law, a major win for gay marriage proponents

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Starting today at 10 AM, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California's infamous Proposition 8, which outlawed extending marriage rights to gay couples. And as per usual on the polarized court, the vote in the case looks to come down to swing voting Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has the power to decide whether to strike down Proposition 8, uphold it as a legal exercise of a state's police power.

The problem? Kennedy didn't appear to like the option of striking down the law or upholding it, as immediate reaction tweets from the court-watching website SCOTUSblog revealed:

 

 

 

 

These immediate reactions, combined with reporting from the Huffington Post, suggest that the best case scenario for opponents of same-sex marriage is that the court will decline to rule, with even conservative firebrand Justice Antonin Scalia offering only mild concern about the unsettled social science on the issue:

Kennedy acknowledged that while the social science on gay marriage is relatively new, there is an “immediate” legal harm to those same-sex couples who cannot be married. He said the voice of the thousands of children of same-sex couples was an important aspect of the case.

“They want their parents to have full recognition and legal status,” Kennedy told Charles Cooper, who was representing supporters of Proposition 8’s ban on gay marriage. “The voice of those children is considerable in this case, don’t you think?”[...]

The justices spent a good deal of time in the first half of the hour examining whether the parties defending Prop. 8 had legal standing, and seemed to cast doubt on whether they did. Chief Justice John Roberts indicated that the case may not reach the central issue of whether gay couples are entitled to marriage, and might fall on issues of standing.[...]

Justice Scalia argued there was “considerable disagreement” over the “consequences” of same-sex couples raising children. “I take no position on whether it’s harmful or not, but it’s certainly true there is no consensus to that scientific question at this point,” he said.

Kennedy and Scalia weren't the only doubtful observers, though. Several justices, including some liberals who seem open to gay marriage, raised doubts that the case is properly before them, according to the Associated Press. Jan Crawford of CBS added:

 

 

 

 

 

Given these reactions, the evidence suggests that the court is leaning toward dismissal. However, projections from oral argument -- especially early ones -- are notoriously unreliable. For instance, early analysis of the arguments in the Obamacare case suggested the law would probably be struck down.

 

This is a breaking news story. Updates will be added.

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