Ginsburg: SCOTUS Will Decide Gay Marriage Case By 2016 or Sooner

GinsburgIn an interview with The Associated Press, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she expects a same-sex marriage case to be heard and decided by the highest court in the land by June 2016, possibly even a year earlier.

Attitudes have changed swiftly in favor of same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, Ginsburg said in her wood-paneled office on the court's main floor.

She predicted that the justices would not delay ruling as they did on interracial marriage bans, which were not formally struck down until 1967.

"I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when thye continually ducked the issue of miscegenation," Ginsburg said. "If a case is properly before the court, they will take it."

Earlier this year, Ginsburg called Edie Windsor 'such a well-chosen plaintiff'


  1. MaryM says

    Because the US is not a democracy I am not sure if this is a good idea.

    I guess if marriage equality helps corporations then the Supreme Court will rule in favour of it.

    Issues like equality and human rights are irrelevant to the Supreme Court – its function is to serve business in our oligarchy.

  2. says

    @RAD: No. If you’re married, you’re married. (The only marriages marginally in limbo are those performed between a lower court decision and a stay in states like Utah.) If the Supreme Court takes one of the cases, it will be determining whether the remaining state bans are constitutional. We now have close to 30 court decisions since Windsor saying they aren’t. None saying they are.

  3. MiddleoftheRoader says

    Unfortunately, by 2016 Ginsburg may not still be on the Court (or maybe another “progressive” Justice like Breyer will be gone). If the US Senate becomes controlled by Republicans after November 2014, it will be impossible for another “progressive” Justice to be appointed by Obama. And if the Republicans win the Presidency in 2016, forget the idea of another “progressive” Justice, even if the US Senate remains Republican.

    The bottom line is that unless Democrats control the US Senate and the Presidency for the next several years, it is very, very dicey if the Supreme Court will declare same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right in all states. And even if the Democrats remain in control, it will come down to what ONE PERSON IN THE U.S. THINKS — Justice Kennedy.

  4. simon says

    Don’t understand all this talk about Ginsburg leaving. She may be the oldest but only by a few years. Women live longer than men. If I have to bet, I would bet Scalia will go first. If you take the average, the conservative side is older and all male. It doesn’t bode well for a conservative future of the court.
    Here are the ages of the justices:
    Roberts 57
    Scalia 76
    Kennedy 76
    Thomas 64
    Ginsburg 79
    Breyer 74
    Alito 62
    Sotomayor 58
    Kagan 52

  5. Billy says

    If the Supreme Court doesn’t take a marriage equality case THIS YEAR, the stays on the previously decided cases should be lifted. Two Circuit Courts have decided in favor of equality, MANY courts below that level have ruled the same. None against since last summer’s Supreme Court ruling. If the Supreme Court doesn’t take the case this fall, it should mean equality is the rule, at least in the two Circuits where it has won. People have fought and waited long enough. The opposition needs to give up, stop wasting our time and money and go away.

  6. JJ says

    Ginsburg is 81, @SIMON. Scalia is 78, Breyer is 76, etc. If you google “how old are the Supreme Court justices,” you’ll want to take a current result, not one from two years ago. May be better to google “when were the Supreme Court justices born.”

  7. Randy says

    As the Circuits are so far all in agreement on the outcome (and perhaps the reasoning as well), there’s next to nothing for the US Supreme Court to decide.

  8. anon says

    The Senate has a 75% chance of going 52-48 Republican this Nov. largely because the majority of states are run by Republican govs and the unpopularity of Obamacare. This means that any retirements this summer will require a very quick set of hearings and vote in the Senate before Nov and the Dec recess to pick someone progressive. After that only a centrist would get through. You can foreshadow retirements because retiring justices don’t do a new round of clerk hiring in the summer.

  9. BusterLA says

    BILLY – You can relax a little. That IS what will/should happen. The states that want to appeal recent Circuit (appellate) ruling only have a limited amount of time to do so (usually 90 days) from the appellate decision. So the 4th and 10th Circuit appeals (and others that may come up in the next few months – 6th, 7th, 9th, etc.) must be filed before the Supreme Court during this coming term (Oct. 14 – June 15) and the Court will decide to take them — or to refuse to take them — during this term. So they won’t just sit undecided forever.

    That said, I’d point out to RANDY that the circuits don’t have to be in disagreement for the Court to take these appeals. The Court can take the appeals based on their belief that all those agreeing circuits might have misread what the Court meant in WINSDOR. I don’t think that will happen but you should dismiss that possibility.

    Also, although it only takes 4 justices voting to decide to HEAR a case, both right and left justices might be reluctant to vote that way. The conservatives don’t want a S.Ct. ruling saying “gay marriage is a constitutional right everywhere” and the liberals might be afraid that they could lose a vote and get a “Windsor doesn’t mean gay marriage is required everywhere” vote.

    Unless one side or the other in the Court is very confident of a win, BOTH sides might think it safer strategically to let the Circuit decisions ride. Or wait to take a case later that ruled differently (say from the more conservative 5th Circuit) before addressing this matter at the S.Ct. level.

    In an interesting speech last year about Roe v. Wade, Justice Ginsburg said that the Court in 1972 made a mistake by ruling TOO SOON that the right to an abortion was protected nationally by the Constitution and was partly responsible for the fact that the issue is STILL a hot button. She was suggesting that the Court got ahead of public thinking and that it should have waited and let the country get used to that idea a little more slowly via rulings in District and Circuit courts. Obviously that sort of thinking might also apply to equal marriage. Ginsburg (and many other Justices) are shrewd lawyers and the Supreme Court is not just a legal institution — it acts politically at times as well.

  10. ben~andy says

    And the civics lesson continues…..does all of this Supreme Court watching make anyone want to donate to a Progressive SuperPac? It certainly makes Repubidiots want to donate to a Conservative Superpac.

  11. lee says

    it’s not so much Ginsburg’s age that worrys me but her health, i’m pretty shes has had history with battleling with cancer