The justices have a closed-door conference set for Friday morning, the last such meeting prior to the holiday recess. They have before them 10 appeals concerning gay marriage.
One set of cases involves the Defense of Marriage Act and its provision denying federal benefits to legally married gay couples. That law has been challenged by same-sex couples in New England, New York and California and has been struck down by two U.S. appeals courts.
The justices are likely to grant review of at least one of those cases.
In addition, the defenders of California’s Proposition 8 are urging the justices to review a ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared the voter initiative unconstitutional. The 2008 measure limited marriage to one that is between a man and a woman.
If the court agrees to hear that case, the justices will rule on whether a state’s ban on same-sex marriages denies gays and lesbians the equal protection of the law. However, if the court denies the appeal, it will clear the way for gay marriages to resume in California.
A third possibility is that the court will opt to delay action on the Prop. 8 case until the justices have ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act.