Supreme Court's Politics Could Determine Same-sex Marriage Outcome

March 27, 2013

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments about same-sex marriage for the second day, a University of Virginia law professor is giving insight into what to expect from the justices.

On Wednesday, justices considered the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, even if they are legally wed in a particular state.

This debate comes after justices heard oral arguments about California's Proposition 8, a voter-imposed ban on same-sex marriage.

"These things can be tricky, though, and we saw that in the health care case recently, where the alignments weren't as predictable," said Rich Schragger, a law professor at UVa.

Schragger said the politics of the court could provide some input. Even with an increasing number of Republicans supporting the idea of same-sex marriage, the case could be closely decided by the liberal-leaning court.

"There are some procedural issues in the case that might have even more disagreement in the court, and you might have a whole number of opinions written and no one opinion gaining a majority," Schragger said.

Schragger expects Justice Anthony Kennedy to be the swing vote in the same-sex marriage decision.

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