As reported at the Huffington Post today, Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University, thinks the Supreme Court justices are likely to let stand a lower court ruling overturning Proposition 8 (California’s ban on gay marriage). Why? Because on hearing the case and then upholding the lower court’s verdict, the Supremes would get ahead of the nation as a whole on gay marriage, and on striking down the lower court ruling, the Supremes would fall starkly behind it:
What do they [the justices] have to gain by hearing this case? Either they impose same sex marriage on the whole country, which would create a political firestorm, or they say there’s no right to same-sex marriage, in which case they are going to be reversed in 20 years and be badly remembered. They’ll be the villains in the historical narrative.
In other words, this is good news for gay people in California: they will likely be able to participate in civil marriage again in 2013, and the marriages annulled by Proposition 8 will be officially reinstated. California represents about 1/9th of the United States’s population as a whole, so this will represent a significant advance for gay equality.
Better news, of course, would be that the Supremes agree to hear the California case and end up nullifying all anti-gay marriage statutes across the nation. One can always hope, but this is probably not going to happen.