The Supreme Court has discretion to delay for as long as it wants whether to put the issue of same-sex marriage on its docket.
PHOTO: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
The Supreme Court has discretion to delay for as long as it wants whether to put the issue of same-sex marriage on its docket.

Story highlights

The justices had been scheduled to privately consider this week appeals from five states

An orders list issued Thursday indicated the court was not prepared to immediately review the core constitutional questions

The process toward a decision to either accept or reject review may take weeks or months

(CNN) —  

The Supreme Court is staying silent – for now – on whether it will review the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, which has rapidly evolved into one of the most important social debates of our time.

The justices had been scheduled earlier this week to privately consider pending appeals from five states over their bans on gays and lesbians from civil wedlock. But an orders list issued Thursday indicated the court was not prepared to immediately review the core constitutional questions: whether gays and lesbians have the same equal protection or due process right to wed, in all 50 states, as opposite-sex couples.

Justices poised to tackle constitutional right of same-sex marriage

The high court has discretion to delay for as long as it wants whether to put the issue on its docket – where public oral arguments would then be held, and a definitive, binding ruling released.

There was no indication when the nine-member bench would either accept or reject review of the issue, but the process may take weeks or months. Some court watchers think the justices may want more time to internally review the various pending appeals, and could be at odds over whether now is the time for them to decide such monumental questions.

Supporters on both sides of the issue had urged the court to jump into the political and legal debate now, to define the limits of civil marriage, and the ability of the 31 current states to keep their bans in place.

Equality supporters are encouraged that a near-unbroken string of state and federal court victories in the past year means their ultimate goal will be achieved: eliminating all laws that prevent homosexuals from legal wedlock.