Same-Sex Marriage Case Generates Wide-Ranging Amicus Briefs

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two same-sex marriage cases on March 26-27, 2013. In addition to considering arguments raised by the parties to each case, the justices will also consider a number of amicus curiae briefs submitted by so-called “friends of the court.”

In prominent cases, groups and individuals that are not parties to the lawsuit will often submit information in the form of amicus curiae briefs for the court’s consideration. Under Rule 37(1) of the Rules of the Supreme Court, "An amicus curiae brief that brings to the attention of the Court relevant matter not already brought to its attention by the parties may be of considerable help to the Court.  An amicus curiae brief that does not serve this purpose burdens the Court, and its filing is not favored."

In many cases, amicus curiae briefs analyze legal issue not fully addressed by the parties or discuss of the broader legal implications of a particular decision. Others may simply attempt to lobby the justices to adopt a particular position.

Not surprisingly, United States v. Windsor, which challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s voter-approved measure defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, have both garnered significant attention from outside parties, most arguing in favor of same-sex marriage. Below are several amicus curiae briefs of note:

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