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U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has announced that the remaining opinions of the current term will be released on Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. As a result, two eagerly awaited rulings on same-sex marriage will be delivered tomorrow.
In a week that has seen the high court direct lower courts to exercise more scrutiny toward affirmative action programs, strike down an important provision of the Voting Rights Act and toughen the standards by which labor lawsuits are brought, the justices’ opinions on the constitutionality of restrictions on gay marriage have been left until the final day.
In March, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two same-sex-marriage cases. Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that enacted changes to the state’s constitution to say that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” United States v. Windsor considers the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.
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Based on who has and hasn’t delivered opinions thus far this term, it’s speculated by some legal commentators that Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy are most likely to be writing the majority opinions in the marriage cases.
The suspense and buildup to the final day will make for another early morning in California, where citizens await the fate of Prop 8.
It will also give the cable news networks a chance to lead in to Supreme Court coverage. Today, MSNBC was the first to break in with news of the rulings.
The blow to the section of the Voting Rights Act that dealt with subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance, thus making it tougher to enforce the 1960s civil rights law, is a leading story for most of the major news outlets today.
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President Obama released a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” with the court’s decision in the Voting Rights Act case.
“For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent,” he said.
“As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress toward guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination. I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process.”
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