The United States Supreme Court is adding same-sex marriage appeals to the agenda of a September 29 meeting that will determine cases for the upcoming term.
Five states have sought appeal to the Supreme Court after rulings in favor of marriage equality were reached in separate Appeals Court cases across the United States. Appeals Courts are the second highest courts in the US judicial system and are separated by region. The states appealing rulings include Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Last week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down Indiana and Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional. Their ruling matched a trend across the US federal court system of striking down same-sex marriage bans. Since last year’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, over twenty federal courts have struck down bans; only one has upheld a state ban.
“Two core same-sex marriage issues have emerged from coordinated national litigation over the past year,” Indiana’s solicitor general, Thomas Fisher, who would argue the case before the Supreme Court, wrote in the state’s petition. “Whether States can define marriage as a man-woman institution, and even if so, whether States must nonetheless recognize same-sex marriages from other States.”
Today’s action does not guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear the appeals this fall or in the spring. They may still choose to punt the issue for a future term. It does, however, seem likely that they will act as the growing number of federal courts weighing in on the issue push the Supreme Court to make a final decision. If the Supreme Court takes up the cases it could issue a ruling as early as this year. The latest that they would rule, should they choose to take up the cases, would be June 2015.