On April 2obergefell graphic8, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States held oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges – the combined group of 6 cases addressing the constitutionality of various states’ bans against same sex. Most Court watchers expect a ruling to come out by the end of June when the Court’s term ends. The next date when the Court will release opinions is May 26th.

Many speculate that Justice Ginsberg was hinting at the result when she officiated at a same sex wedding on Sunday May 17, 2015. At the end of the vows between the two grooms, Justice Ginsberg said she pronounced the two men marriage by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States, giving special emphasis to the word “Constitution“.

Justice Ginsberg is known to be among the liberal wing of the Court, with Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan. On the other side, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito typically vote along conservative lines. Justice Roberts usually votes with the conservative block, leaving Justice Kennedy as the moderate middle swing vote.   The Obergefell case will probably fall along those voting lines as well.

Justice Kennedy’s legacy has been very strongly in favor of the rights of the LGBT community. As early as 1996, Justice Kennedy wrote the Court’s opinion in Romer v. Evans, invalidating a Colorado law against homosexual rights. He also wrote the Court’s landmark opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, extending Due Process protection to homosexual people and banning laws that made such conduct criminal. On the other hand, Justice Kennedy tends to be a states’ rights advocate. So, in Obergefell, Justice Kennedy could be conflicted between the right of each state to make its own laws about marriages versus the right of same sex couples to marry and enjoy the benefits of a legally sanctioned relationship as heterosexual couples.

By June, the country should have a better idea of what the law of the land will be.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.