Supreme Countdown

Supreme Countdown: Suspense Reigns Another Day; Next Release Tomorrow

supreme courtThe suspense continues to build: The U.S. Supreme Court did not release its decisions today in the two landmark cases involving marriage for same-sex couples.

The next date for release of opinions is tomorrow at 10 a.m. EDT. And, because Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. did not announce this morning that tomorrow will be the last day of the session, it is very likely that the court intends to release its remaining six decisions over the course of at least two more days.

The court released five decisions Monday morning, including a highly anticipated decision on affirmative action, Fisher v. University of Texas.  The 7 to 1 decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by all but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate). It vacated a lower court decision and sent it back to the lower court for reconsideration. The Kennedy opinion held that the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should have applied strict scrutiny in upholding a university practice of awarding “plus points” toward admission to candidates who are racial minorities. Early analysts are saying the decision gives a little to both sides of the debate over affirmative action.

Historically, the Supreme Court has, more often than not, released opinions in its most controversial cases on the last day of the session. For this session, the highest interest is in the two marriage cases and one case concerning the Voting Rights Act.

More than 81,000 people were watching for the earliest word of decisions via Monday morning.

The decisions concerning the marriage rights of same-sex couples will potentially be the most historic ones ever on gay-related legal rights. They will decide how same-sex couples will be treated under federal and state law. Currently, the Williams Institute estimates about 114,000 same-sex couples in the United States have marriage licenses, but that number could grow dramatically depending on how the court rules on Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and the Defense of Marriage Act (U.S. v. Windsor).

Lisa Keen, co-author of Strangers to the Law: Gay People on Trial, will be posting nearly daily on legal matters leading up to and beyond the Supreme Court decision. Her coverage on this and other issues is also available at