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U.S. Supreme Court to conference on Prop 8, partner benefits cases

Thursday, September 6, 2012
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The U.S. Supreme Court has set at least three cases related to marriage equality and same-sex partner benefits for conference on Sept. 24, including the federal case against California’s Proposition 8, the state’s 2008 voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The September 24 conference is the first time this term that the Justices will meet privately and look at petitions for certiorari in the Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

The court is expected to determine which cases they will accept for review, reported Scottie Thomaston at Prop 8 Trial Tracker.

Usually, the Court announces its orders from conferences on the Monday following the conferences, however if they do take up the Prop 8 case on September 24, they could announce as early as the next day whether the full Court will review the case. It takes four votes to grant review.

If the Court denies the petition, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision stands, and Proposition 8 will be invalidated, though the case won’t set a nationwide precedent. If they decide to review the case, they’ll reach a final decision on the merits at the end of June 2013.

The Court is also expected to review at least two additional cases related to same-sex partner benefits; they are:

  • Edith Windsor v. United States, which challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the basis that it unfairly forced her to pay more than $363,000 dollars in estate taxes upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, in 2009;
  • A petition by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that allows Arizona’s state employees to keep their same-sex partners benefits, including health insurance.

If the cases are not taken up, then the decisions of the lower courts will stand. Though unlikely, such a development in the Proposition 8 case would mean same-sex couples in California could marry by hte end of the year..

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