In a very thorough article, Julie Pace of AP wrote about the Administration considering whether or not they should try to sway the Supreme Court in the California Prop 8 case. Pace notes that in the Prop 8 case, the Court has the following options:
— The justices could uphold the state ban on gay marriage and say citizens of a state have the right to make that call.
— The court could endorse an appeals court ruling that would make same-sex marriage legal in California but apply only to that state.
— The court could issue a broader ruling that would apply to California and seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island. In those states, gay couples can join in civil unions that have all the benefits of marriage but cannot be married.
— The broadest ruling would be one that says the Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex unions.
Another possibility that Pace does not mention is for the Justices to combine options 2 and 3 on this list and make a ruling that would essentially say "Once a state/locality makes gay marriage legal, it cannot then go back and retract marriage." Such a ruling would be narrow, but would not just affect the state of California. It would presumably set a precedent for any state or locality that had legalized gay marriage or civil unions. One also has to wonder how the DOMA case that will be argued a day after the Prop 8 case will affect the deliberations and outcome of the Prop 8 case.