Power Players

Why the Supreme Court may not say ‘I do’ to gay marriage

Power Players

Top Line

With the Supreme Court expected to issue major rulings on same-sex marriage any day now, ABC News court watcher Terry Moran tells Top Line that the court will likely avoid making a monumental ruling on the issue.

Moran says the justices “don’t want to be the judges of America when it comes to this issue” and predicts that they will find a way to defer to the states in the two cases dealing with same-sex marriage.

“They see this roiling democratic debate that's happening state-by-state, and the betting at the Supreme Court is that they'll find a way to decide this issue by getting themselves out of it,” Moran says. “They won't declare gay marriage legal all over the country or illegal. They'll say, 'Let the states handle it.'"

On an anticipated decision related to affirmative action, however, Moran says the court may decide to make a “big statement.”

“There is a sense that they've sliced that onion just about as thin as you get,” Moran says. “In other words, you can't have quotas. You can have affirmative action for the purposes of diversity in universities and colleges but you can't have quotas.”

The case before the court asks whether the University of Texas discriminates against white students with its affirmative action admissions process, and Moran says, “It sounded like at the end of the oral arguments they made, they may just go whole hog and say, ‘Let's be done with this.’”

The court may also issue a major ruling on another race-related case that calls into question how the Voting Rights Act is applied in southern states. Moran says the court may decide that the landmark civil rights law has been “insufficiently updated.”

“It's a law that was written for Bull Connor, and police dogs and fire hoses, that covers certain states that were using those tactics to stop Americans from voting,” Moran says.

“The Supreme Court has two choices: They could say, 'This Voting Rights Act, which puts states under the control of courts is so extreme, we're going to strike it down,' or they could say, ‘Update it,Congress,’ which would effectively kill it, because there's a wide sense that Republicans would not sign on to such a an update,” Moran adds.

For more of Terry Moran’s analysis on these cases, including his explanation about why the court takes so long to issue rulings on cases related to race, check out this episode of Top Line.

ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, Ron Couvillion, and Bob Bramson contributed to this episode.

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