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Taking sides on the meaning of marriage

Helen Alvare

Many likely expected that, to the extent that a discussion of the “nature of marriage” would feature at all in the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage opinions, it would take place in the Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) case, assuming that the Court first saw its way clear to finding standing on the part of the official proponents of Prop 8. Windsor (DOMA), it was widely thought, could well be decided upon federalism grounds: i.e. states’ traditional authority over the validity and incidents of marriage.   Instead, the Supreme Court’s discussion over the meaning of marriage took place in Windsor, albeit after a fairly extended, but ultimately inconclusive and nondispositive treatment of federalism.   This dynamic was introduced with the following paragraph:

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