Experts Believe Supreme Court Will Decide Constitutionality of Gay Marriage Next Year

Source: CASEY SMITH/Tulsa World

It’s likely the U.S. Supreme Court will have ruled on the constitutionality of state bans regarding same sex marriage by this time next year, experts say.

But it’s less clear whether the Supreme Court will choose a Tulsa case — Bishop vs. Smith — to consider what will be a landmark decision on marriage equality.

On Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a January federal court ruling that Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. The 10th Circuit also ruled in late June that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The volume of court cases nationally that challenge state bans on same-sex marriages will make it difficult for the Supreme Court to avoid addressing the issue sometime during its next term, experts say.

“We’ve now had something like 15 or 16 federal court decisions, all of which have gone the same way,” said Steve Sanders, an associate professor at the Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. “I just don’t see how the (Supreme) Court can duck the issue.”

The Supreme Court is on recess and the next term begins Oct. 1. That term will conclude by the end of June.

“It’s just a matter of time until the Supreme Court takes up the issue, and not a lot of time,” said Clifford Rosky, chairman of the Equality Utah board of directors and a professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.

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