The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court has denied cert in all five pending same-sex marriage cases. There are two immediate implications of this—an upside and a downside:
(1) Downside: Same-sex marriage will now go forward in five states—Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. This should increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24. By deciding not to review these cases, the Supreme Court has let stand bad rulings from lower courts that usurp authority from the people by striking down good laws. This is not good and will likely have far-reaching effects over time.
(2) Upside: Gay marriage will not become a constitutional right this term. Many of us were predicting that the Supreme Court would take up one of these cases. Given the court’s decision in Windsor, it is very clear how they would have ruled if the issue would have come before the court again. Observers expected gay marriage to become a constitutional right across the country this June. But that is not going to happen—at least not right now. The issue will continue to be fought in the lower courts and in the states.
This is big news, and the upside is definitely significant. Still, SCOTUS at best has only delayed the inevitable. Legal same-sex marriage in all 50 states—including a constitutional right to SSM—is a fait accompli at this point. It’s like watching water roll down the windshield. You can debate what track the water will take to get there, but it’s going to get there one way or the other.