While I’d like to pretend I saw this one coming, I join the rest of the legal blogosphere in finding myself somewhat speechless at the Supreme Court’s decision this morning to deny review to all seven petitions filed in the marriage equality cases. (It was the decision to grant stays that got me. Why stay a decision that you don’t intend to rule on? Anyway.)
While I generally try to avoid reading the tea leaves, the decision seems to send a clear message, particularly to the Sixth and Fifth Circuits (courts which seemed most likely to come out against marriage equality and which have yet to rule). But if you’re not persuaded of the importance of today’s orders, some good arguments are already being made.
[M]any have said that today’s ruling was unremarkable, because there is no circuit split so far. But here’s where the timing comes into play. Nothing required the Court to act today, rather than wait to see whether a contrary ruling comes from the Fifth Circuit, the Sixth Circuit, or the Texas Supreme Court, all of which have pending cases.
And as usual, Lyle Dennison, with SCOTUS Blog, does a great job explaining the significance of these one-line orders beyond the fact that they immediately bring marriage equality to five more states–Utah, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Virginia (with another six likely to follow in short order).
Whether or not the remaining circuit courts read the denials the same way remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: a national consensus on marriage equality doesn’t seem likely in the near future.