Since early this year, the Supreme Court has stepped back into the same-sex marriage controversy five times. While it has done little to explain those actions, it has sent some signals about its thinking. Its most important signals may have been those it appeared to have sent Wednesday, in putting off the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Virginia.
Between the nine lines of that order, the Court implied that it will not be rushed into a decision about which, if any, cases it is going to review. And it left no doubt that the Justices themselves, not the lawyers or their clients, are in charge of the timing. The Court, in short, has not yet gotten caught up in the race to settle the basic constitutional issue just as soon as it could possibly do so. . . .
With a little more than five weeks until the Justices assemble in their first private Conference, in advance of the new Term starting October 6, it is by no means clear that any same-sex marriage case will be ready for the Justices to consider it on September 29. That depends, in part, on whether the Court will have cases before it one at a time, as each is ready, or in a group., when several are ready. . . .