We’ve been waiting years for the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision about marriage, and now an off-the-cuff comment from Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just provided a hint that the Supreme Court might’ve been waiting for us this whole time. Somehow, marriage equality has turned into a lame chicken-and-egg joke.
Here’s the problem: there are a bunch of marriage cases that are ready for the Supreme Court to take. But the Supreme Court might not want to take it (RBG hinted last week) because all of those cases agree that marriage bans are unconstitutional, and the court would prefer to wait until lower courts disagree with each other.
So far, only one federal judge has upheld a marriage ban since the Windsor decision, and he’s at the bottom of the ladder: a District Court judge. Before that case gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, it has to pass through an appellate court, which could take years.
So if Ginburg’s comment is any indication, the Supreme Court might not take a case for years. Or maybe it will take a case next week! There is literally no way to know what the hell they’re going to do, other than wear robes and look solemn.
Making things even more complicated: some courts (but not all courts) are afraid of stepping on the Supreme Court’s toes, so they’d decided to freeze their marriage lawsuits until the Supreme Court rules. But the Supreme Court might not want to make a decision until those cases advance further. And that means that the whole legal system’s in a traffic jam, waiting for someone to get out of the way and figure out where they’re going.
And that, apparently, is now important issues are settled here in the land of the free.