The Supreme Court did not take up a case challenging bans on gay marriage, leaving couples hopeful for a definitive statement from the high court in limbo. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court did not take up a case challenging bans on same-sex marriage Thursday, leaving couples hopeful for a definitive statement from the nation's highest court in limbo.
The court announced it had selected 11 cases to hear in its fall term, which begins Monday, but chose none of the seven petitions on gay marriage, where federal appeals courts have struck down state bans.
Cases awaiting action from the court are from Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Two high-profile rulings by the court last year, one striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and another upholding a judge's decision to overrule California's statewide ban, opened the door to a spate of legal victories.
However, in most cases where bans on gay marriage were struck down, the judges have placed stays on their decisions pending a Supreme Court ruling. In other cases, Utah and Virginia, the high court has itself placed temporary blocks on the rulings.
Justices could still decide to take up one of those cases for the upcoming term, which runs through June. Some additional cases are expected as soon as Monday.
Four of the nine justices must agree to hear a case, and court watchers generally agree that it is extremely likely at least one of the seven cases will get heard.
Explains Lyle Denniston, for Scotusblog:
There are four justices who strenuously objected in dissent last year when the court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- a ruling that actually set off nearly three-dozen rulings by lower federal courts, striking down (with only one exception) state bans on such marriages...
"Those four justices also surely know that, if the court does opt to deny review of all of the cases at this point, such a denial would trigger the full implementation of appeals court decisions that would spread in a short period of time to eleven more states beyond the nineteen (along with Washington, D.C.) that currently allow same-sex marriage. That would almost certainly add an inevitability to the campaign to win same-sex marriage rights across the nation."
More than 30 states have asked the court to weigh in, and three federal appeals courts have ruled in favor of striking down the bans. Earlier this month, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested the court might hold off on ruling until there is a split in the circuit opinions to weigh in.
But for now, the court seems to be in no hurry. They are expected to issue more denials of many of the 2,000 cases that have accumulated since last June, starting Monday, and final word may not come until as late as January, in which case the ruling could come as late as next June.
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