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US Supreme Court rules in Hollingsworth v. Perry

Explaining in Hollingsworth v. Perry that a litigant must have an actual and personal interest in the litigation, and that after passage of Proposition 8 the proponents thereof lost their claim to such an interest, the US Supreme Court (ruling along pre-conceived ideological lines) held that the Appellants in this very important case simply had no right to participate in the litigation. In this case, the executive branch of California, presently led by Gov Jerry Brown, refused to defend a law of the State of California which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

In what many perceive to be a companion case – or at least a closely related issue – the same Court in United States v. Windsor held that a federal law signed in 1996 known as DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was an Act of Congress for which the purpose is fatally inconsistent with the exercise of rights historically reserved to the individual states; thus, the decision is at least in strong measure a nod to state’s right’s advocates. Interestingly, this case also presents a controversy regarding gay marriage rights in which the executive branch, led federally by Barrack Obama, refused to defend a law of the United States which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

From the two, it appears clear that by a 5-4 margin, our highest court is of the opinion that same-sex marriage is a State’s right issue, that such a right may not be infringed by the Federal Govt. (at least where such rights are granted by an individual State). It is also clear that a State is free to pass such a law. It is unclear what the decision would be if another state other than California were involved in a similar controversy and its elected officials did pursue validation of a voter-passed restriction on same-sex marriage. If is also clear that the Court is prepared to deal with circumstances in which the competing branches of government are at odds with each other concerning the enforcement or defense of politically turbulent laws.

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