Q. Does the Defense of Marriage Act have the same standing issue?
A. Basically, yes. The court will spend 50 minutes on Wednesday addressing the issue, at least in part.
Much as California did with Proposition 8, the Obama administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Instead, House Republicans have funded a multimillion-dollar defense of the law. The Obama administration in a legal brief declares that the authority to defend a federal law in court belongs to the executive branch alone.
Q. Let me guess: Justice Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote, right?
A. Very possibly.
A generally conservative Republican appointee, Kennedy has nonetheless written several high-profile opinions upholding gay rights. In 1996, he wrote a decision striking down a Colorado ballot measure that banned recognizing gay individuals as a legally protected class. In 2003, he wrote a decision striking down a Texas anti-sodomy statute.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia both opposed Kennedy on the Colorado and Texas cases. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito were not on the court at the time but are generally reliable conservative votes as well though Roberts surprised many in upholding the Obama administrations health care law. That makes him another one to watch closely on these cases.
Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sided with Kennedy in both cases. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were not on the court at the time, but the Democratic appointees appear likely to be sympathetic to gay marriage.
Q. Will these historic arguments be televised?
The Supreme Court does not allow television cameras. Instead, the court will be releasing the transcript and an audio recording of the oral arguments. They will be available on the courts website, www.supremecourt.gov, by 1 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. Wednesday. C-SPAN will also be airing the audio.
Q. When will the court issue its decisions?
A. Probably the last week of June.