The Supreme Court will hear two court cases this week that have the potential to radically transform the same-sex marriage debate.
On Tuesday, oral arguments begin over the case from California on whether Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, unfairly discriminates against gay people.
On Wednesday, oral arguments begin on whether or not the federal government has overreached its authority with the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that bars the federal government from recognizing state legislation that has legalized same sex marriage.
The Court will hear whether or not the cases have infringed on the constitutional rights of United States citizens.
In the case of Proposition 8, the court will rule whether or not legislation passed by the majority of voters is unconstitutional because it has infringed on the rights of minorities. More specifically, it will address whether or not public voters had the authority to invalidate the marriage of thousands of Californians previous to the passage of Proposition 8.
In the case of DOMA, the court will have to decide whether or not the federal government has acted unconstitutionally in overreaching its powers to dictate policies to individual states. DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by both houses of Congress and President Clinton, and is used to prevent any federal benefits to same-sex married couples, even in states that recognize their marriage.
However, marriage is not explicitly covered in the Constitution, so the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Federal Government (with DOMA) had breached the 10th Amendment of the Constitution which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
It is purposeful of the Supreme Court Justices that they have opted to hear both court cases at once, and it can be inferred that by seeing both cases, the Justices seek an end to the controversial debate regarding same-sex marriage.
Projecting possible results for both cases are tentative at best. The Court has a long history of modest to wide sweeping rulings. Of the 9 Justices, a majority is needed to strike down either ban.
There is one conservative leaning swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who ruled in favor of the LGBT agenda in 2003 in a case that struck down sodomy laws in Texas.
It is still unclear how the Justices will rule however, either way a decision will be reached sometime this summer.