WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court suggested today it could find a way out of the case over California's ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a major national ruling on whether gays have a right to marry, an issue one justice described as newer than cellphones and the Internet.
Several justices, including some liberals who seemed open to gay marriage, raised doubts during a riveting 80-minute argument that the case was properly before them. And Justice Anthony Kennedy, the potentially decisive vote on a closely divided court, suggested that the court could dismiss the case with no ruling at all.
Such an outcome would almost certainly allow gay marriages to resume in California but would have no impact elsewhere.
Justice Kennedy said he feared the court would go into "uncharted waters" if it embraced arguments advanced by gay marriage supporters. But lawyer Theodore Olson, representing two same-sex couples, said that the court similarly ventured into the unknown in 1967 when it struck down bans on interracial marriage in 16 states.
Justice Kennedy challenged the accuracy of that comment by noting that other countries had had interracial marriages for hundreds of years.