Analysis: What are the court's options?

03/26/2013 | New York Times (tiered subscription model), The

In the case about the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which took away the freedom of same-sex couples in the state to marry, the Supreme Court's decision could overturn all state bans across the U.S., or its ruling could apply only to the eight states that grant marriagelike rights, or just to California itself. In the case involving the Defense of Marriage Act, if the court decides a key section of the law is unconstitutional, then couples married in the District of Columbia and the nine states that recognize same-sex marriages will also be considered married by the federal government. If the court finds DOMA constitutional, the federal government would continue to consider only opposite-sex couples as legally married. The court could rule that it is powerless to decide the case at all if the justices conclude that lawyers for the U.S. House do not have standing to defend the law.

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