WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court suggested today it could find a way out of the case over California’s ban on same-sex marriage without issuing a major national ruling on whether America’s gays have a right to marry.
Several justices, including some liberals who seemed open to gay marriage, raised doubts during a riveting 80-minute argument that the case should even be before them. And Justice Anthony Kennedy, the potentially decisive vote on a closely divided court, suggested that the court could dismiss it with no ruling at all.
Such an outcome would almost certainly allow gay marriages to resume in California but would have no impact elsewhere.
Kennedy said he feared the court would go into “uncharted waters” if it embraced arguments advanced by gay marriage supporters. But lawyer Theodore Olson, representing two same-sex couples, said that the court similarly ventured into the unknown in 1967 when it struck down bans on interracial marriage in 16 states.