By Jessica Huseman and Andrew Scoggin
In separate 5-4 decisions released Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, but declined to make its own ruling on California’s Proposition 8.
Writing for the majority in the DOMA case, Justice Anthony Kennedy said “violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government.” The majority also criticized the law as an intrusion on the state’s ability to define marriage.
“DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition,” Kennedy added.
The section of the law at issue dealt with the denial of benefits to same-sex couples that had legally recognized relationships in certain states. Kennedy was joined by the court’s four liberal-leaning justices.
But on Prop 8, the California law that barred gay marriages, justices said one of the parties involved did not have proper standing to make an appeal on a lower court’s decision, according to SCOTUSblog. The state had declined to defend the law, so a private party had stepped in to do so.
The majority in that ruling, in Hollingsworth v. Perry, broke down in an odd combination of Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The court ordered the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judgment vacated and remanded.