Here's What We Know About Where The Justices Stand On Gay Marriage

It’s not easy to know exactly where each Supreme Court justice stands on the issue of same-sex marriage.

But it’s important to find out what we can, now that we know the Supreme Court is going to rule on the issue this term.

Our best way may just be an examination of how each has weighed in on other elements of the marriage equality issue.

In June 2013, the court ruled 5-to-4 in the case of United States v. Windsor, striking down a portion of the federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA).

That’s a 1996 law that effectively denied same-sex couples federal marriage benefits — even in states where same-sex marriage is legal — because DOMA defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Anthony KennedyReuters/Kevin LamarqueU.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies about judicial security and independence before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington February 14, 2007.

J
ustice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. In it, he said DOMA denying gay couples those rights amounts to federal law viewing same-sex unions as less meaningful under the law.

He punctuated his opinion with this statement: “The federal statute is invalid…the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen joined the majority.

3 Supreme Court JusticesReutersJustices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.
Elena KagenReuters/Kevin LamarqueU.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is sworn in to testify during the first day of her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings in Washington June 28, 2010.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. wrote the dissenting opinion, rejecting the notion that DOMA has anything to do with personhood and dignity. Roberts also suggested the question of marriage equality has too many nuances for the Supreme Court to issue any blanket rulings.

John RobertsAPChief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Justice Samuel A. Alito added to Justice Robert’s opinion, saying “I hope that the Court will ultimately permit the people of each State to decide this question for themselves.”

Alito appears to be firm in his view that states should be the ones to decide these issues. In July last year, Alito denied a request from a county clerk in Pennsylvania who wanted the Supreme Court to stop same-sex marriages there.

Samuel AlitoAP Photo/Stephan Savoia, FileIn this Sept. 14, 2012 file photo, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito speaks at Roger Williams University Law School in Bristol, R.I

Justice Antonin Scalia also added to Roberts’ dissenting opinion, scolding the Court for even taking the DOMA case, and questioning its authority to strike down “democratically-adopted legislation.”

Justice C
larence Thomas cosigned the dissenting opinion.

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