Although the United States Supreme Court (sometimes SCOTUS) has spoken in an important family law case involving the rights of same-sex married couples, it may yet speak again.
Actually, the decision announced by the nation’s highest court last week in a case involving marital rights for same-sex partners was basically an exercise in silence. The tribunal declined the opportunity to overturn a Texas Supreme Court ruling without comment.
The Texas court had ruled, as noted in one national article, “that the right to a marriage license did not automatically entitle same-sex couples to spousal insurance benefits.”
The city of Houston contended otherwise, extending such benefits to same-sex married partners in the wake of a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that all married couples must be accorded equal treatment under the law.
Claimants in the Texas case had argued to the contrary, stating that it was not clear whether the SCOTUS ruling compelled state governments to provide the same benefits to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
Opponents of same-sex unions hailed the SCOTUS ruling allowing the Texas decision to stand.
Some commentators note at the same time, though, that the high court could enter the fray again in the future and is merely declining to overturn the Texas ruling until a case with a more specific fact pattern comes before it.
And that could be soon. The SCOTUS decision resulted in the Houston city case being sent back down for a judicial outcome in a federal district court. Following that, the matter could once again find its way to the high court.
“[T]he Supreme Court knows that it will likely see this case again,” states one close observer.