The United States Supreme Court will decide if they will take a case regarding same-sex marriage in a closed meeting this Friday. The Court is considering seven potential cases that challenge either the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or Proposition 8, California's controversial ban on same-sex marriage that made national headlines.
Cases being considered range from the inclusion of same-sex partners on federal and state health insurance policies to Social Security benefits to the basic legal right to marry. The Supreme Court has discussed taking these kinds of cases before, but the meeting on Friday suggests that the Court may see a case within the next year. For a case to appear before the Supreme Court, four judges must vote in favor of taking the case. It is possible that none of the cases will appear before the court if there is not enough consensus to get four votes.
Lambda Legal Executive Director Jon Davidson told the Huffington Post, "I don't think we're ever had an occasion where the Supreme Court has had so many gay rights cases knocking at its door. That in and of itself shows how far we've come." Lambda Legal is representing one case challenging DOMA that will be considered on Friday.
After the conference on Friday, the court could announce which cases have been accepted as early as that afternoon. Otherwise, the decision will become public on Monday morning when the court will release the order list detailing its actions during the conference.
LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and the death penalty have been on the court's radar already this year. In October, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said: "The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state." Later that month, the court refused to hear a case proposed by anti-abortion Personhood Oklahoma that dealt with extreme personhood legislation.
Media Resources: ABC News 11/27/12; Buzzfeed 11/27/12; Huffington Post 11/27/12; Feminist Newswire 10/31/12, 10/08/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .