Kennedy, Roberts Don't Tip Hands in Gay Marriage Case

Kennedy in particular asks tough questions of both sides
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2015 12:47 PM CDT
Kennedy, Roberts Don't Tip Hands in Gay Marriage Case
Demonstrators stand in front of a rainbow flag near the Supreme Court today.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Today's historic arguments before the Supreme Court over whether gay marriage is a constitutional right have wrapped up, but anyone looking to predict the winner seems to be out of luck. As expected, the court's liberal justices backed the idea and its conservative justices were skeptical, leaving all eyes on Anthony Kennedy as the expected swing vote. But as the Washington Post notes, he asked tough questions of both sides. "This definition has been with us for millennia," he said of marriage between a man and a woman. "And it's very difficult for the Supreme Court to say, 'Oh, well, we know better.'" And yet he also wondered why gay couples should be deprived of the "same ennoblement" that marriage provides.

The bottom line for those who went into today's proceedings confident of a win for gay marriage is that "Kennedy's vote is no sure thing," writes Mark Joseph Stern at Slate. Proponents also hoped to win over Chief Justice John Roberts, and that, too, remains possible but murky. He voiced concern about shutting down debate on gay marriage with a court ruling, notes the New York Times. But he also observed, "If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can't. Why isn't that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?" That suggests he might join to strike down gay-marriage bans on the narrower issue of gender discrimination rather than sexual orientation, observes the roundup at Bloomberg. The court is expected to rule on the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, by the end of June. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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