Supreme Court decisions

The justices is­sued a land­mark de­cision on gay mar­riage rights and also cleared the way for same-sex mar­riages to re­sume in Cali­for­nia, where state and fed­er­al judges and the state’s top of­fi­cials have said they sup­port gay mar­riage as a mat­ter of equal rights.

The court is­sued oth­er key de­cisions, in­clud­ing strik­ing down a key part of the 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act and a more nu­anced rul­ing on the role of af­firm­at­ive ac­tion in col­lege ad­mis­sions.

FULL COVERAGE: Battle over gay mar­riage

In a ma­jor 5-4 rul­ing on re­li­gious free­dom, the justices de­cided the re­li­gious rights of com­pany own­ers trump the rights of fe­male em­ploy­ees to re­ceive the full con­tra­cept­ive cov­er­age prom­ised by the law.

In a 5-4 rul­ing writ­ten Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the court said these em­ploy­ees, some of whom care for their dis­abled chil­dren at home, have a con­sti­tu­tion­al right not to sup­port a uni­on they op­pose.

The Su­preme Court has re­jec­ted Mas­sachu­setts’ ef­fort to en­force a 35-foot buf­fer zone around abor­tion clin­ics. The nar­rowly writ­ten 9-0 de­cision is a free-speech vic­tory for op­pon­ents of abor­tion. It up­holds the rights of “side­walk coun­selors” who wish to speak to young preg­nant wo­men to per­suade them against hav­ing an abor­tion.

The justices rule the pres­id­ent ex­ceeded his power un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion by filling fed­er­al po­s­i­tions when the Sen­ate was on a brief break.

The Den­ver-based U.S. 10th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals up­held a lower-court de­cision that struck down the state’s bans on same-sex mar­riage. The rul­ing, which was stayed, sets the stage for an ap­peal to the U.S. Su­preme Court, which touched off the cur­rent round of leg­al fight­ing on the is­sue when it struck down parts of the fed­er­al De­fense of Mar­riage Act last year.

The Su­preme Court has ruled that Aereo, the up­start tele­vi­sion stream­ing ser­vice, vi­ol­ated copy­right laws by re­send­ing broad­cast sig­nals without pay­ing li­cens­ing fees. In a 6-3 de­cision, justices said the law for­bids un­li­censed com­pan­ies to “trans­mit” copy­righted shows to the view­ing pub­lic. Aereo ar­gued, un­suc­cess­fully, that it was trans­mit­ting sig­nals to in­di­vidu­al cus­tom­ers through the use of tiny ren­ted an­ten­nas.

In a 5-4 de­cision, the Su­preme Court of the United States has struck down the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, a 1996 law that banned fed­er­al be­ne­fits from leg­ally mar­ried gay couples. Read the de­cision:

Today the U.S. Su­preme Court cleared the way for same-sex mar­riages to re­sume in Cali­for­nia as the justices, in a pro­ced­ur­al rul­ing, turned away the de­fend­ers of Pro­pos­i­tion 8. Chief Justice John Roberts, speak­ing for the 5-4 ma­jor­ity, said the private spon­sors of Prop. 8 did not have leg­al stand­ing to ap­peal after the bal­lot meas­ure was struck down by a fed­er­al judge in San Fran­cisco. As the day pro­ceeds, ...

The Su­preme Court today struck down a key part of the Vot­ing Rights Act of 1965 that kept vot­ing rules in much of the South un­der the spe­cial scru­tiny of judges and the U.S. Justice De­part­ment. The court said these spe­cial re­stric­tions are out­dated and no longer needed now that blacks re­gister and vote at the same rate as whites.

The Su­preme Court has said that uni­versit­ies need more proof of the need for di­versity be­fore they un­der­take an af­firm­at­ive ac­tion plan. By a 7-1 vote, with one justice re­cus­ing her­self, the court sent a case about the Uni­versity of Texas’ ad­mis­sions policy back to a fed­er­al ap­peals court for re­view, giv­ing the school an­oth­er chance to jus­ti­fy its af­firm­at­ive ac­tion pro­gram. Here’s the court’s de­cision: