The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday to hear arguments on the constitutionality of California's ban on same-sex marriage was not only predictable, but it should be welcomed by both sides. A decision by the Supreme Court will offer national clarity on a very divisive issue.
We realize that proponents of same-sex marriage were hoping the high court would simply refuse to hear the appeal, thus allowing to stand decisions by a trial court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled the state's Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Proposition 8 effectively banned same-sex marriage in California.
Those who oppose same-sex marriage -- and who favor Proposition 8 -- are understandably overjoyed by the Supreme Court's review. To them it means that there is one more shot at keeping the ban passed by the voters.
The implications of Friday's decision are fairly simple. It means that the Supreme Court will schedule arguments in either March or April and will render a verdict by the end of its term in June.
In that decision the court could decide to uphold the 9th Circuit's decision, which would likely have the practical effect of striking down similar bans passed in 31 states. Such a ruling would be saying that same-sex marriage is an implied constitutional right.
Or, the court could find that the 9th U.S. Circuit was wrong in affirming District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's finding that the state law did, in fact, violate
We have long opposed Proposition 8. We did so when it was on the ballot and we hailed Judge Walker's decision as a bold and refreshing decision for the rights of same-sex couples. Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause in the 14th amendment. We agree with him.
At the same time, we think it is entirely fitting that the highest court in the land should pass judgment on this important and controversial issue.
Many a political pundit will attempt to handicap what the court might do in this case, but the court proved in its ruling on the Affordable Care Act earlier this year that such predictions can be a bit dicey.
Most thought the ACA decision would hinge on the opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the swing vote between the court's conservative and liberal blocs. Instead, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who engaged in a virtuoso legal dance to cast the deciding vote upholding the act's constitutionality.
Frankly, it is difficult to see how the high court could split legal hairs on this issue. By taking the case the court seems to be saying it is prepared to settle the matter of same-sex marriage. It is about time. Let's schedule hearings sooner rather than later and decide the issue once and for all.