Once again, a media consensus appears to be forming about how the Supreme Court will decide on a hot-button issue.
Many reports and analysts were famously forced to eat their words after they said in 2012 that the court looked set to overturn Obamacare. (It upheld it.)
On Tuesday, though, there seemed to be broad agreement that the nine justices would avoid striking down Proposition 8, which bars gay marriage in California, or of invalidating marriage equality bans across the country.
"It's quite obvious the Supreme Court is not prepared to issue any kind of sweeping ruling about gay rights," NBC's Pete Williams said on MSNBC, just after the oral arguments ended. "No member of the court seemed to be very interested in that." Williams said it seemed more likely that the court would tailor its ruling narrowly to California, or that it would dismiss it outright on procedural grounds, effectively upholding lower court rulings that tossed out Prop. 8.
"I think, frankly, for the advocates of same-sex marriage, my guess is that's the best they can hope for," Williams said.
On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin, the analyst who is most associated with bungled predictions about Obamacare, treaded a cautious line. He said that the court "almost seemed to be groping for an answer" on the question of gay marriage.
"I am now not in the business of making predictions," he said diplomatically. He noted that, in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is seen as the swing vote on the case, seemed to be shirking that role.
Thomas Goldstein, whose SCOTUSBlog is a very influential source of Supreme Court analysis, also agreed with Williams' line:
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that the Court probably will not have the five votes necessary to get to any result at all, and almost certainly will not have five votes to decide the merits of whether Proposition 8 is constitutional.
So did Reuters: