june26It is widely expected that the Supreme Court of the United States will issue their opinion in the Obergefell case defining the rights of same-sex couples to marry on Friday, June 26, 2015. The Supreme Court rarely announces the date upon which it will issue an opinion in a case and there are never any leaks of that information. However, several clues are leading everyone to the conclusion that it will be Friday.

First, the Supreme Court usually issues opinions on Mondays. Toward the end of the term they add dates to issue additional opinions. Usually, additional opinions are released on Thursdays. Last week they announced an additional opinion issue date on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Second, it is likely that they will want to issue the Obergefell decision independently of any other decisions. There’s so much attention focused on this decision. It could be disruptive to have other opinions issued the same day.

Third, June 26 is a significant day in the history of LGBT rights in America. Twelve years ago on that date June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. Authored by Justice Kennedy, Lawrence held unconstitutional the statutes that criminalized homosexual conduct. Ten years later, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in U.S. v. Windsor. This case was significant for LGBT rights in America because it held a portion of the federal defense of marriage act unconstitutional. It made federal government benefits applicable to LGBT couples. Interestingly, the Windsor opinion was also authored by Justice Kennedy.

Most believe that Justice Kennedy will be the swing vote in deciding the Obergefell decision. Out of the nine justices, four are known to be liberal-leaning. Another four are known to be conservative-leaning. Justice Kennedy tends to be the moderate in the middle.

There are two questions that are before the Supreme Court in the Obergefell case. The first is whether LGBT couples should have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, giving rise to a right of equal protection under the law. If Justice Kennedy sides with the four liberal justices in answering this question yes then the second question does not even matter.

If a majority of the justices vote “no” on question one then the court could consider question two. The second question is whether States must recognize gay marriages performed where they are lawful, even if unlawful in the state where the couple seeks recognition. Based on the tenor of the justices questions in oral argument it seems possible that one or two of the conservative block of justices could even agree to question two.

Most court watchers believe it is highly unlikely that the justices will answer questions one and two with a no.

And so the country waits for Friday, June 26, 2015. Most likely this will be another significant day in LGBT rights in America.

 

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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.