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Sotomayor hearings: Gay marriage makes its way into questioning

July 15, 2009 |  2:54 pm

Finally, same-sex marriage.

The subject was raised indirectly by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley did not mention same-sex marriage directly, but that was the implication when he asked Sonia Sotomayor about a court ruling that said Minnesota could deny a marriage license to two men. Did she agree, he asked, that the case, Baker vs. Nelson, reserved the question of marriage to the states?

In Baker, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that two men could be denied a marriage license because Minnesota law limited marriage to men and women.

As she has with other topics, Sotomayor said she couldn’t comment because questions about marriage are pending in many courts and might reach the Supreme Court.

Grassley challenged her on that point. He wondered aloud why she couldn’t comment on Baker because it’s legal precedent. He noted that on Tuesday she said that Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion, was an established legal precedent. If she could characterize the status of Roe, he asked, why not Baker?

The judge replied that she had not reviewed Baker in some time but offered to review the case overnight and report on it Thursday. Grassley said he would welcome that.

-- Steve Padilla

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