Justices on Tuesday heard oral
arguments in the first of two cases related to gay marriage, and
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy hinted that the court should strike down
California's ban on gay marriage without ruling broadly on the issue.
“I just wonder if this case was
properly granted,” said Kennedy, considered a swing vote.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor went further,
expressing support in letting states decide the issue for themselves.
“Why is taking a case now the answer?” she asked.
Lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies
represent two gay couples who wish to marry in California but are
unable because of Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional amendment
which put an end to the weddings of gay and lesbian couples taking
place in the state after the California Supreme Court legalized such
unions. More than 18,000 couples married before voters approved
The ban “walls off gays and lesbians
from marriage, the most important relationship in life,” Olson told
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. appeared
wary of moving too fast on the issue: “You want us to step in and
assess the effects of this institution, which is newer than
cellphones and/or the Internet?”
Charles Cooper, representing supporters
of the ban, was asked how allowing gay couples to marry harmed the
marriages of heterosexual couples.
“[T]he state's interest and society's
interest in what we have framed as 'responsible procreation' is
vital,” Cooper answered.
Influential court watcher SCOTUSblog
tweeted: “Arguments done. #scotus won't uphold or strike down
#prop8 bc Kennedy thinks it is too soon to rule on #ssm. #prop8 will