DOMA, Prop 8, and mootness

On Friday, the Supreme Court decided to hear two cases related to marriage equality: a case related to whether the federal government has to respect state law’s regarding marriage and case asking whether a law preventing consenting couples to marry based on sex is unconstitutional.I’m not at all experienced in watching the Court and predicting what is going to happen, so I don’t know if my opinion is completely ridiculous. However, wouldn’t one decision (if the Court recognizes their own precedent regarding marriage as a fundamental right) (that on Prop 8) make the other (that on DOMA) moot? If the Court decided that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage rights based on sex, then wouldn’t it follow that DOMA is also unconstitutional? This tells me how the Court is going to rule, at least on Prop 8. I hope I’m wrong.


About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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3 Responses to DOMA, Prop 8, and mootness

  1. What do you hope you’re wrong about?

    • emmawolf says:

      Sorry, I was super unclear about this because I kind of had a freak out moment about it. Basically, my thinking is that the Court already pretty much knows how it’s going to rule on each case before they even hear arguments. I don’t think this is an unreasonable assumption. Most people look at the Court as 4/4/1 split on most issues. This is not to say that I think they are going to rule on party lines, just that the justices all have different ways of thinking and we make generalizations about how we think they are going to think. And they (I would hope) know each other better than we do.

      Ok, so that’s in the background, that their minds are probably already 70% made up. The Court doesn’t like to overturn itself/overrule its precedent. Also, the Court can’t hear an issue if it’s moot or wouldn’t have any legal significance. So if they decide on the Prop 8 issue first and decide that it is unconsitutional, then they couldn’t rule on the DOMA issue because it would be moot (any my thought is, why would they agree to hear the case if it’s going to be mooted by another case?). And if they hear DOMA first and decide that DOMA is unconstitutional, then when they hear Prop 8 and if they decide that is unconstitutional, then it would pretty much overrule their DOMA decision (even though they say similar things) (so my thought it, why would they agree to hear a case if their judgment is going to be overruled by another case they will hear shortly after?). So I’m thinking, given that they are hearing both cases, that they would be unlikely to rule that marriage inequality is unconstitutional and the Prop 8 case is already decided at least to that extent. That’s what I hope I’m wrong about.

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