Update: SCOTUSblog tells us five opinions were released, none related to the same-sex marriage cases. Decisions on major cases on affirmative action and voting rights were also not issued. The court did strike down an Arizona law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship before registering to vote through a federal “motor voter” registration form.

The court now has 14 outstanding cases to decide. Next scheduled release date is Thursday.

So why is it taking so long? At least seven cases that already have been decided were argued after the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases, and the affirmative action case was heard way back in October. Here’s an answer from one of the SCOTUSblog experts, lawyer Amy Howe:

“I think it’s just all about when they have the opinions ready. These are big, historic cases that we’re talking about, and there are likely to be multiple opinions. I was talking to someone who clerked at the court, and he said last year that even if health care had been argued on the first day of the term, it still would have gone to the last day.”

Original post

We know there’s intense interest in the impending Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act opinions by the U.S. Supreme Court, so we’ve been up tracking the court’s release of its opinions each day that happens this month. Though, as inveterate court watchers have said throughout, the most likely scenario is SCOTUS drags these two out until the very end and releases them at the end of the month.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court

7 a.m. PT is when the court starts disseminating the day’s opinions. As usual, we point you to SCOTUSblog, which is live blogging all the decisions released. Per SCOTUSblog, there are 19 undecided cases from this term.

Prop. 8, of course, is California’s same-sex marriage ban that was struck down on narrow grounds by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Should SCOTUS uphold that decision, same-sex marriages could begin again in California in mid- to-late July, according to San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office. (San Francisco was an intervenor in the case on the plaintiff’s side.) If the court uses the case to issue a more sweeping ruling that all same-sex marriage bans are illegal, that would effectively legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

UC Davis law professor Vikram Amar told KQED’s Scott Shafer last week that a broad decision declaring a fundamental, nationwide right to same-sex marriage is highly unlikely.

“It’s very rare for the court to invalidate the laws of two-thirds or three-quarters of the states,” Amar said. He noted that when bans on interracial marriage were struck down in 1967, only 16 states had such laws — compared with 35 that now ban gay marriage.

Also from that report by Scott Shafer:

At oral arguments in March, there seemed to be little appetite – even among the most liberal justices — for a momentous decision in support of gay marriage.

And there are two ways for the court to avoid that legal question altogether. They could simply dismiss the case, allowing the 9th U.S. Circuit Court decision to stand. (In fact, during oral arguments, Justice Anthony Kennedy mused, “I just wonder if the case was properly granted.”)

Or, more likely, Amar said, the court will declare that Prop. 8 proponents lacked legal standing to appeal Judge Walker’s decision.

“If the case is decided on standing grounds, the thing we should focus on right away is what, if anything, the court says about the follow-on process,” Amar said.

It should also be noted that even in a worst-case scenario for those who support same-sex marriage — that the court overturns the 9th Circuit’s decision and upholds Proposition 8 — a substantial majority of Californians now support LGBT couples’ right to marry, a political turnabout that is sure to lead to a proposition being put on the ballot to once again legalize same-sex marriage.

DOMA

DOMA is a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as between only a man and a woman. It prevents those who are in same-sex marriages from receiving a host of federal benefits, such as the ability to file a joint tax return. In the case before the court, a widow was forced to pay $363,000 in inheritance taxes after her female spouse died, a liability she would not have incurred if she’d been married to a man. A federal appeals court ruled that provision of DOMA was unconstitutional. Another provision, requiring states to recognize only opposite-sex marriages performed in other states, is not at issue here.

  • wayne

    yes….they are terribly overworked!!!!!

  • Airman21706

    Did you know: Same Sex Marriage is being viewed as equal rights in the United States Military. The United States Navy on August 31st will grant the same rights. So despite what the attorney thinks, he may be in for a shock. Why would same sex benefits be granted in the US Military and not nationwide?

    • krysten

      but did you know the military including the navy will not grant all benefits to same sex couples that heterosexual couples do get

  • dave_aka_lambsev

    Matthew 4
    1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

    1 Then was Jesus led aside of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.

    2 And when he had fasted forty days, and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.

    3 Then came to him the tempter, and said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

    4 But he answering, said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

    5 Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him on a pinnacle of the Temple.

    6 And said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, that he will give his Angels charge over thee, and with their hands they shall lift thee up, lest at any time thou shouldest dash thy foot against a stone.

    7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

    8 Again the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,

    9 And said to him, All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down, and worship me.

    10 Then said Jesus unto him, Avoid Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

    11 Then the devil left him…

    • Jay Martin

      And that’s relevant to this article how exactly?

    • Exodus 21:7-11

      It’s like me adding this tasty morsel to the conversation, straight from the bible.

      When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

      • Bill

        Yeah, i really want to go by this book. Better off going with Catcher In The Rye. It makes a lot more sense.

    • TheScienceCrusade

      Once upon a time a group of simpletons from the Bronze Age wrote a book, and they called this fantastical anthology “The Bible.” The story continues, as simpletons continue to quote the mythos as truths of some higher deity. Once you quote it, there is no going back, you have lobotomized your logic and intellectual value.

      • soundguy

        So Pascal, Bacon, Boyle, Okham, Newton and MANY others were all simpletons? And you because of your presumed atheism are superior to them? I understand that you are trying to be sarcastic but twisting the truth serves no one.

    • Bill

      I don’t mean to be rude, but it amazes me that people still believe this crap.

    • Brett Conerly Hartmann

      You do understand that this is a nation built on freedom of religion, and for me that means freedom from religion. Decisions need to be made for equality purposes, and as a country we do not share the same faith. If you do not agree with gay marriage than don’t get gay married… isn’t it that simple?

      • peramia

        Oh god, you have no idea how many times I’ve made this argument. They say it’s morally wrong, you ask how and they start quoting the bible or whatever religious text they follow. My own senator (McConnell) sent me a letter very politely informing me to (basically) “f–k off heathen I’m a good god fearing christian.” It’s really ironic since I pointed out that he needed to set aside religious beliefs due to the law of the land separating church and state and look at the issue only with logic since logic dictates this is a civil rights case and we have every right to the same freedoms straight people have.

  • peramia

    I’m Catholic, but I’m also a lesbian. People can argue all they want that the bible is god’s word and therefore can’t be wrong but god didn’t hold the pen, men did. Men with their prejudice, narrow ideas, and adherence to their current cultures did. We no longer own slaves or (hopefully) degrade women or stone someone to death for adultery. The people who use the bible now to deny me my civil rights are the same as those people who once did the same thing to african americans. They quoted the bible then, too and were just as wrong. If you look at the REAL message of christianity it’s one of love, tolerance, and peace. So all you so called christians can stop telling me I’m evil or going to hell because I promise you god isn’t behind you on this. God is always with the oppressed.

  • DERP

    I seriously love the fact that the bigots and religious nuts are really the
    only people that oppose it, but it’s scary how many of them there are.
    Also, scroll down and look for the haters… SHOCKING that the literacy
    level drops the more hatred there is. I guess the only real way to get
    married is to drop out of school in 5th grade and knock up your sister.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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