White House press secretary Jay Carney today refused to say whether President Obama would want the Supreme Court to take a case that could lead to same-sex couples across the country being able to marry.
The administration has not taken a position on whether the court should review a lower court decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages, and the White House was not willing to take a position on that issue today.
Asked if the administration wants the court to take the Proposition 8 case, Carney said, “I will ask you to direct it to the Justice Department. I’m not going to make policy toward Supreme Court cases from here.”
Obama announced in May of this year that he personally supported the right of same-sex couples to marry and criticized “Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry” in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month.
Despite that, neither the president nor his administration have taken any specific actions supporting litigation aimed at court rulings declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Additionally, when he announced his support in May, he faced some criticism for his comments that marriage was, and he supported it being, an issue decided at the state level.
Although the Obama administration is pushing for the Supreme Court to decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional in the coming year — detailed on Monday at BuzzFeed — those cases only address the federal benefits currently prohibited for same-sex couples whose marriages already are recognized in a given state and, hence, would have no immediate impact on whether couples elsewhere can marry.
If the Supreme Court takes the case challenging California’s marriage amendment, it could decide the case by holding that marriage is a fundamental right for all couples — a ruling that potentially would have a broad impact across the nation.
Asked more generally if the president would want the court to take a case that could result in a court ruling in favor of same-sex couples’ marriage rights across the country, Carney said, “I don’t have anything to say on that at this time.”
Although the administration did not weigh in with any court filings on the issue of whether the court should take the case, if the court takes the case the administration could weigh in then on its view of the constitutionality of Proposition 8.