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Happening Now: Day 2 Of Same-Sex Marriage Cases At Supreme Court

Demonstrators gathered again outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as the time approached for another case to be heard about issues related to same-sex marriage.
Chip Somodevilla
Demonstrators gathered again outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as the time approached for another case to be heard about issues related to same-sex marriage.

NPR's Nina Totenberg: If the court strikes down DOMA, what would be the grounds?

NPR's Nina Totenberg: An interesting exchange about the 'power' of DOMA opponents.

NPR's Nina Totenberg: On what happens if the court declines to decide.

The Supreme Court is spending Wednesday debating the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and related issues as the justices devote a second straight day to historic debates over same-sex marriage and the rights of gay couples.

The justices took their seats at 10 a.m. ET and the day's session has stretched past noon ET.


As we did on Tuesday, when the issue before the court was California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriages, we're watching for word about what's happening. SCOTUSblog is posting updates on its Twitter page and Reuters is live blogging again as well. We're monitoring their reports and watching what others have to say -- including the discussion hosted by NPR's Frank James and Andy Carvin on the NPRPolitics Twitter account.

Right after the hearing, we're scheduled to speak with NPR's Nina Totenberg, who helped us analyze Tuesday's action and look ahead to Day 2.

Update at 12:08 p.m. ET. Prediction -- Court Is "80 Percent Likely To Strike Down DOMA."

Some reasoning from SCOTUSblog, based on what its experts have heard so far today: "#scotus 80% likely to strike down #doma. J Kennedy suggests it violates states' rights; 4 other Justices see as gay rights."

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Not Clear Court Thinks It Can Rule On Constitutionality:

"As the procedural portion of the day's arguments wound down," The Wall Street Journal says, "it wasn't completely clear that the court believed it was free and clear to rule on the merits of DOMA's constitutionality. The reservations the justices expressed during Wednesday's proceedings stood in contrast to last year's health-care arguments, where the court sent clear signals early on that it would decide the constitutionality of the health law."

Update at 11:50 a.m. ET. The "Tiny Dynamo" Behind The Case:

Last week, Nina profiled Edith Windsor, "the 83-year-old taking on the U.S. over same-sex marriage."

Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Reuters First Lede:

"Midway into a second day of tackling the gay marriage issue, conservatives on the Supreme Court said on Wednesday they were troubled by President Barack Obama's decision in 2011 not to defend in court a ban Congress had approved. ... While the criticisms may not affect how the justices eventually rule on whether the 1996 law violates U.S. equal protection rights, it showed frustration with how Obama has walked a difficult political line on gay marriage."

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. Scalia, Roberts Critical Of Administration's Position:

The Obama administration's decision not to defend DOMA has thrown the case into a "new world," Justice Antonin Scalia said during the first hour of this morning's hearing, The Wall Street Journal reports. He questions how the Justice Department can both enforce a law and conclude that it's unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts, the Journal says, called the government's actions "unprecedented."

Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. First Hints About What's Happening:

SCOTUSblog tweets that the "#doma jurisdiction argument continues with no clear indication of whether a majority believes #scotus has the power to decide the case."

Reuters says that the conservative justices seem to be "troubled" by the Obama administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

For much more about the cases, see:

-- The Same-Sex Marriage Cases: A Primer.

--'s "special series" on "Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court."

-- SCOTUSBlog's Q&A on how the "historic Supreme Court gay-marriage case will unfold."

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