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Will high court's affirmative action ruling affect gay marriage cases?

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm •  Published: April 24, 2014

''When it comes to issues of gay rights in particular, Justice Kennedy has been a leader on the court," said Robert Schapiro, dean of Emory University's law school. "Given his decisions in those cases, I think the Michigan opinion is unlikely to be of great influence over the same-sex marriage cases."

Washington lawyer Thomas Goldstein, who has argued more than 25 cases before the Supreme Court, agreed.

''In my opinion, gay rights stand on a different footing with Kennedy," he said. "The Colorado referendum case is a good illustration of that."

Goldstein was referring to the high court's 1996 ruling, authored by Kennedy, that nullified a Colorado constitutional amendment that banned the passage of laws protecting gays and lesbians.

Seven years later, Kennedy authored the court's landmark decision invalidating Texas' sodomy law. And last year, he wrote the majority opinion that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Kennedy appeared to leave himself some wiggle room in the Michigan affirmative action decision, if he is so inclined to strike down constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. The Michigan case, he said, was about whether voters could choose to prohibit the consideration of racial preferences in governmental decisions.

When the law inflicts or encourages harm to minorities, "the Constitution requires redress by the courts," Kennedy wrote. In the Michigan case, "those circumstances are not present here."

Bill Rankin writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. E-mail: brankin(at)

Story Filed By Cox Newspapers

For Use By Clients of the New York Times News Service