There's an issue of "standing" in both same-sex marriage cases. Standing — the legal doctrine — has to do with whether the party seeking access to the judicial process has a concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the opposing party and likely to be redressed if he happens to prevail on the legal issue. But the real issue of standing — these journalists make me think — is Justice Kennedy's standing within the elite crowd of politics, academia, and journalism.
Milbank's riff is: He can already tell.
Early in the oral argument [in Windsor], the conservatives — Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts (a silent Clarence Thomas can be assumed to be their tacit tagalong) — explored the idea that the case might be disposed of on the technical grounds that no injury had been proved, a technique that would avoid a ruling calling DOMA unconstitutional.The usual sucking up is not needed.
But Kennedy was having none of it. “It seems to me there’s injury here,” he said.
The swing vote had swung....
Kennedy left little doubt about what he thinks the answer is. When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued that DOMA violated the notion of equal protection under the law, Kennedy cut him off. “You are insisting that we get to a very fundamental question about equal protection,” he said, “but we don’t do that unless we assume the law is valid otherwise to begin with.”
And if Kennedy doesn’t assume something, nobody can assume it.
It's embarrassing to the Court that it is talked about this way, and — ironically — it makes it harder for the Court to find new/bigger individual rights that ordinary people can believe really came out of a dutiful judicial analysis of the law. That unwittingly bolsters the argument for leaving this issue in the arena of majoritarian politics.