Supreme Court arguments on Prop. 8 were at times pointed, but the justices often seemed tentative, giving the impression that their decision in the gay marriage case might not be broad.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
A sharply divided US Supreme Court heard oral argument on Tuesday in a potentially historic case examining the constitutionality of a 2008 statewide ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
During the 80-minute argument, the justices appeared to separate along traditional liberal-conservative lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy in the center of the court.
The argument session included some tough, hardball questions, but overall the justices seemed tentative and reluctant. It did not have the feel of a court preparing to issue a landmark decision.
At one point Justice Kennedy, while struggling to identify a way to resolve the case, suggested that perhaps the case should be dismissed.
“The problem with this case is that you are really asking … for us to go into uncharted waters,” Kennedy said.
The contested measure, known as Proposition 8, reversed a California Supreme Court ruling five months earlier that had, for the first time, recognized a right of gay men and lesbians to marry.
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