As you would expect, both Boston dailies today report on yesterday’s Supreme Court DOMA hoedown.
A boost for gay marriage: Justices question US law
WASHINGTON — Concluding two days of intense debate, the Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it could give a boost to same-sex marriage by striking down the federal law that denies legally married gay spouses a wide range of benefits offered to other couples.
As the court wrapped up its remarkable arguments over gay marriage in America, a majority of the justices indicated they will invalidate part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — if they can get past procedural problems similar to those that appeared to mark Tuesday’s case over California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Since the federal law was enacted in 1996, nine states and the District of Columbia have made it legal for gays and lesbians to marry. Same-sex unions also were legal in California for nearly five months in 2008 before the Proposition 8 ban.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more-liberal justices in raising questions Wednesday about a provision that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal law.
Most justices voice skepticism on marriage act
WASHINGTON — A majority of Supreme Court justices expressed deep skepticism Wednesday about a federal law denying benefits to legally wed gay and lesbian couples, conveying after two days of historic testimony on the institution of marriage a sense that they would declare the law unconstitutional.
During oral arguments over a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ticked off some of the 1,100 federal benefits the law denies to gay couples who have been legally married in Massachusetts and eight other states: They are not guaranteed family medical leaves, cannot collect spousal Social Security benefits, and cannot file joint federal tax returns and receive a marital deduction.
“With that set of attributes, one might well ask, what kind of marriage is this?” said Ginsburg, interrupting an attorney who argued the law does not violate states’ rights.
As a result of the law’s regulations, Ginsburg added, the nation is left with two classes of marriage: “Full marriage and this sort of skim-milk marriage,” she said, drawing laughter from the packed courtroom.
Same story, different details. What does distinguish the two papers, though, is where they turn for sidebar material.
Excerpts: ‘Sea of Change’
‘There has been a sea change’
On why President Obama is still enforcing the law if he believes it is unconstitutional (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.):
ROBERTS: If [President Obama] has made a determination that executing the law by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, “Oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.’’
On the question of whether the definition of marriage should be a federal matter (Justice Anthony Kennedy and Paul Clement, the lawyer representing the House Republican leadership in defending the law):
KENNEDY: You are at, at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody.
CLEMENT: First of all, the very fact that there are 1,100 provisions of federal law that define the terms ‘‘marriage’’ and ‘‘spouse’’ goes a long way to showing that federal law has not just stayed completely out of these issues. It’s gotten involved in them in a variety of contexts where there is an independent federal power that supported that.
And there’s more where those came from – Beyoncé, Ben Affleck, Joe Kennedy 3.0, and etc.
Check it out for yourself.