This morning, like they will for the rest of this month's Monday mornings, Supreme Court watchers waited for decisions in the big Prop. 8, DOMA, voting rights, and affirmative action cases only to get an inconclusive ruling about raisins. But never fear, we're here with a guide on when those bigger decisions are expected and why you should start circling the week of June 24 for those potentially historic gay rights decisions.
The legal wonks over at the SCOTUS Blog analyzed the trends and rate the Court has been issuing decisions. You'll notice that the end of June has traditionally been a time where the uptick of decisions occurs:
This would make it a good bet that DOMA and Prop 8. are going to be squeezed in that last week. The last scheduled session of this term is on June 24, but that might not even be the last day. "We don’t yet know when the last day — which is presumably when the same-sex marriage rulings will come down — will be. Based on past practice, the most likely days are June 26 and 27. But we can’t say for sure," the SCOTUS blog reports.
In addition to DOMA and Prop. 8, the Supreme Court still has to rule on cases involving affirmative action, voting rights-acts, and whether or not companies should be allowed to patent genes. That's a lot of decisions, and we're already in the second week of June. And unloading all those blockbuster cases on one day is probably not the route that the court will take. As the SCOTUS blog points out, opinions are issued as they're ready and conventional wisdom would say that opinions in cases that were heard first would probably be ready earlier than ones heard months later—and the Abigail Fisher affirmative action case is the oldest big case that hasn't been ruled on. The DOMA and Prop. 8 hearings were held at the end of March, Fisher was heard in October. Shelby Country vs. Holder (voting rights) was heard at the end of February, and the Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad (genes) was heart mid-April.
It Probably Won't Be Heard Next Term
When cases aren't decided by the end of the term, the protocol is to reorder for re-argument for the next term. But there hasn't been any indication, the SCOTUS blog notes, that would indicate that judges are leaning in that direction.
The Magic Thursdays
The last huge case this Supreme Court ruled on was the Affordable Care Act. And if you recall that was on a Thursday, not a "Super Monday" (Mondays in June—the court's busiest month—when opinion announcements are revealed are dubbed Super Mondays) which basically means that the Court decides what days it will issue opinions. For example, more opinions are expected this coming Thursday, meaning an affirmative action opinion could be right around the corner . So, if the Court is waiting until the last possible minute to rule, it would probably be on June 26 or 27 (a Thursday).
And if the rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8 are released that week, that timing would coincide with New York City's Gay Pride and San Francisco's Gay Pride—two of the biggest celebrations in the country and one of those is in a city that's directly affected by the court's Prop. 8 decision.