When three of his U.S. Supreme Court colleagues said two years ago that same-sex marriage wasn’t a constitutional right, Chief Justice John Roberts left himself room to maneuver.
Roberts declined to join that group, and that decision will put him in focus Tuesday when the court hears arguments in a historic clash that may legalize gay marriage nationwide.
With Roberts uncommitted, some advocates are hoping that the nation’s highest judicial officer will place his imprimatur on a pro-marriage ruling. Should the court back same-sex marriage it would cap a transformation in the rights of gays over the past dozen years, bringing weddings to the last 14 states where they are banned.
“His vote is in play,” said Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which backs marriage rights. “I don’t think people should write him off.”