The month before a huge Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is expected, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over a same-sex wedding, and her words and gestures are being scrutinized for hints of how the case might come out.
The New York Times's Maureen Dowd was a guest at the wedding of Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn and New York architect Charles Mitchem. After the ceremony, Dowd wrote in her column that Ginsburg had pronounced the two men married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States, and that she'd emphasized the word "Constitution" and given "a sly look."
No one was sure if she was emphasizing her own beliefs or giving a hint to the outcome of the case the Supreme Court is considering whether to decide if same-sex marriage is constitutional.
Probably not. According to MSNBC's Irin Carmon, who's working on a book about Ginsburg, giving a nod to the Constitution when she officiates any marriage — same-sex or not — is standard for RBG.
As for the constitutional language, it's part of Ginsburg's standard wedding terminology, according to this reporter's forthcoming biography of Ginsburg, much to the awe of one of her clerks. In 2000, Ginsburg presided over the wedding of her former clerk, Paul Berman, to a former clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. "I'll never forget the end," Berman, now a law professor at George Washington University, recalled. "Instead of ‘by the power invested in me, by whatever' she said, ‘by the power vested in me by the United States Constitution.' My wife always jokes that if we got divorced it would be unconstitutional."
There's still no word on whether the "sly look" is something she regularly deploys, though.
Waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court
But there are better ways to predict the outcome of the case than to read into Ginsburg's facial expressions and intonation. In April, she and the other Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments over whether states' same-sex marriage bans are constitutional. And as Vox's German Lopez has explained, since then, legal experts and LGBT advocates have widely expected the Supreme Court to rule that states' same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional — a decision that would effectively bring marriage equality to the US.
Watch: How marriage equality swept the nation