Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesJustice Samuel Alito urged caution during oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 Tuesday against a sweeping decision on gay marriage, saying that it is a concept that is “newer than cell phones or the Internet.”
“Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new,” Alito told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, according to court transcripts.
“There isn’t a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet? I mean we — we are not — we do not have the ability to see the future.”
Verrilli pushed back on that argument by saying that California has not been cautious in pursuing other equal-rights laws, such as equal parenting and adoption rights.
“Yeah, but the rest of the country has been cautious,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in response. “And you are asking us to impose this on the whole country, not just California.”
Verrilli rejected Scalia’s charge, saying that Prop 8 challengers were not “taking the position that it is required throughout the country.”
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