On whether the Supreme Court should weigh in on marriage equality, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg now says there’s “no need for us to rush.”
The 81-year-old justice, appointed by President Clinton, told an audience at the University of Minnesota’s Law School Tuesday, according to the Associated Press that the marriage cases currently ready to be considered by the Supreme Court don’t present a substantial judicial question, since lower courts are unanimous in ruling in favor of same-sex couples who want to marry.
However, Ginsburg suggested that could change depending on what happens in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. If that appeals court arrives at a decision conflicting with the rest, then “there will be some urgency” for the Supreme Court to settle the issue, Ginsburg said, according to the AP.
The Sixth Circuit, based in Cincinnatti, that covers Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee. Reports from inside the courtroom were mixed on the likely outcome of those cases, noting that while two judges seemed sympathetic to the cases brought by same-sex couples, another seemed skeptical, and all three judges on the panel had tough questions for both sides. The Sixth Circuit could issue its ruling at any point, though it is under no obligation to do so on a particular timeline.
Ginsburg’s comments seem to contradict remarks she made in an August interview with Katie Couric with Yahoo News. News, where the justice said the court “will answer that question” about a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Ginsburg did qualify those remarks by noting that she, of course, cannot predict how the court would rule on an issue that may come before it, but she did imply that the court would not duck its obligation to answer legal questions at the heart of the nationwide debate on marriage equality.