Supreme Tension as Big Cases Loom for Top Court

Gay Marriage and Affirmative Action Hang in Balance

getty images

By Reuters

Published June 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Chief Justice John Roberts clutched a sheaf of papers when he and his black-robed colleagues ascended the mahogany bench on Thursday for one of the last days of the U.S. Supreme Court term.

Was he ready to announce a ruling in any of the four most anticipated cases? Two involve same-sex marriage, one the 1965 Voting Rights Act and one a university’s use of race in admissions. As Justice Elena Kagan began reading the first of three opinions that would be issued, Roberts kept looking down at his papers, reading over them and rubbing his forehead, his jaw taut. That only heightened the tension for spectators.

But when his turn came to deliver the last of the morning’s opinions, there was no climax, only a cliffhanger. The justices departed the bench without resolving the four blockbusters and leaving a total of 11 cases still to be announced on what is likely to be the last week of the term, beginning on Monday.

Lawyer Theodore Olson, who represents challengers to California’s ban on same-sex marriage, joked afterward that the wait was a form of torture.

The one-time U.S. solicitor general, who has argued 60 cases before the Supreme Court over the years, said he was used to the anticipation at the end of June, chalking it up to “hard cases” and “human nature.” The two same-sex marriage cases were argued in March, relatively late in the term.

Despite the mystery over how the nine justices will decide the big cases, there is no real mystery about the delay. Late June at the Supreme Court is crunch time, as the justices - not unlike college students finishing term papers late into the night - push up against their self-imposed, end-of-June deadline.

In 2003, the last time the justices had college affirmative action and gay rights together on the docket, decisions came on June 23 and June 26, respectively. Last year, their decision on the constitutionality of the 2010 healthcare law signed by President Barack Obama came on the last day, June 28, before the justices recessed for the summer.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has called June “flood season.”

Many court watchers expected a decision to come much sooner on the affirmative action case because it was argued during the first month of the term, on Oct. 10


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.