1. On Nov. 30 and again Dec. 7, the nine justices could be deciding whether they will hear cases challenging the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act, California’s Proposition 8 and more.
Addressing marriage rights, the way the federal government treats married couples and the way the law treats gay, lesbian and bisexual people generally, these cases are important. “These are the most significant cases these nine Justices have ever considered, and probably that they will ever decide,” SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein wrote on Nov. 30.
2. They almost certainly will hear at least one of the DOMA cases, like Edith Windsor’s challenge, because two federal appeals courts have said the law is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court will want to resolve that inconsistency.
3. The justices also could hear the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, but it also could do two other things.
It could deny the appeal, which would put into effect the appeals court decision striking down the initiative and allow same-sex couples to resume marrying in the state, or it could hold the case until it reaches a decision on DOMA.