Glaucon wrote:I think it will likely be a favorable outcome for same-sex mariage. The Supreme Court decided to pick the issue up (they get to pick and choose, for some odd reason). And this comes at a time that Republicans feel they are losing the middle ground with their anti gay marriage stance, because public opinion is swinging, moving towards acceptance. Most republicans won't answer questions about gay marriage at the moment. They know their position is no longer that of the majority.
So... why did they pick it up? I think the Supreme Court felt it was time to add a little to their legacy of enabling equal treatment. I assume they voted to pick it up, which likely means Roberts or the other slightly moderate judge probably voted with the liberals... which, I suspect, spells a pro-gay mariage ruling.
I'd say probably, but not necessarily. The Supreme Court gets to "choose" which cases to grant cert to because it would be physically impossible for nine people to properly consider and resolve the thousands of cases that get appealed up. So they are inclined to grant cert to major circuit splits, or important matters of law that need resolution, which usually involve a lot of money, affect a lot of people, or implicate fundamental constitutional rights. That being said, the Supreme Court as a matter of practicality cannot just deny cert for certain issues, like the legality of the ACA last summer, or who won the election in Bush v. Gore. It provides resolution, but also gives the Supreme Court a symbolic way of flexing its muscle.
These cases sort of fall into this last category, given that the validity of a major federal law is on the table. Moreover, there is a circuit split on the issue, fundamental principles are at stake, and every gay person is arguably affected by DOMA's operation. They had to resolve this.
Whether or not that implies that the Supreme Court will uphold or strike down DOMA (nothing is compelling it to make the call on gay marriage in general, btw) is a wash. You are correct in that Supreme Court judges care about their legacy and that perhaps the social and political climate in this country has tipped towards acceptance of gay marriage (though that's certainly arguable, one electoral defeat of Republicans notwithstanding) and the justices are affected by these things. But they can just as easily go the other way.
When Brown v. Board of Education came down, it was imperative for the justices that it be a unanimous opinion in order to avoid Southern backlash. That case (which broadly rebuffed all racial segregation, not just school segregation) might not have happened as it did had Chief Justice Vinson not conveniently died.