Sotomayor Predicts Aftermath of SSM Cases Without Offering Prediction

May 6th, 2013

Justice Sotomayor had some powerful predictions about the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, but was careful to offer no prediction:

The judge’s speech came as she and fellow Supreme Court justices are considering three issues dividing the nation: affirmative action, voting rights and gay marriage.

Sotomayor was careful not to reveal her personal opinions, though she conceded that “it is impossible for a homosexual couple today not to be affected by the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases in some way,” adding to laughter, “just so you’re all clear, I’m not predicting anything.”

The federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman — now being considered by the Supreme Court. The court must also rule on California’s Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage.

The justice told the New York audience on Sunday that 2013 is likely to be “a turning point for those whose lives will be changed, for better or for worse, by those rulings.”

The”better or worse” line is interesting. How could it be worse? At first glance, one may take her comments to mean that the Court will rule in favor of DOMA or Prop 8. But, it may also mean that things could be worse *if* the Court rules in favor of marriage equality. How could this be, you ask? Well, depending on how far-reaching the Court’s opinion may be, there could potentially be a backlash against the movement. Though, if Sotomayor was cognizant of that kind of backlash, would she still vote in favor of an expansive opinion? The “better or worse” line thus leads to me to think that this may be a partial victory for the challengers, at best. We’ll see. I don’t make predictions.

For actual predictions on the SSM cases, see the FantasySCOTUS prediction tracker. DOMA and Prop 8 look like they’re going down, but on unclear grounds.

H/T DC Dicta