Supreme Court declines to hear same-sex marriage cases, making it legal in five new states

In a move that surprised most commentators, the Supreme Court declined to accept for review (PDF) any of the seven petitions pending in same-sex marriage cases. There was no circuit split on this issue, which (as I wrote just this morning) tends to militate against the high court stepping in.

This means same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Virginia, which were seeking to preserve state laws and state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene in sweeping circuit courts of appeals decisions in the Fourth Circuit (covering Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas), the Seventh Circuit (covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin), and the Tenth Circuit (covering Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming) makes it all but a certainty that same-sex marriage will be legalized in the remaining states in those circuits.

Same-sex marriage cases remain pending in the Fifth Circuit (covering Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) and the Sixth Circuit (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee). It’s conceivable, although not very likely, that either court could reject same-sex marriage, which would give us the circuit split necessary for the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

The Supreme Court’s orders list, denying these petitions is here (PDF).