Justice Ginsburg predicts Supreme Court to hear gay marriage case

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US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in the courts official photo session on October 8, 2010, at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Ginsburg underwent surgery related to pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Credit:

Tim Sloan

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that the high court will hear arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act within the next year.

Ginsburg was speaking to a group of students at the University of Colorado in Boulder when she was asked about the equal-protection clause and whether the nation's high court would consider it applying to sexual orientation, reports the Associated Press.

The Justice smiled and said she couldn't answer the question because she could not talk about matters that would come to the court, and that the Defense of Marriage Act would probably be up soon.

"I think it's most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term," she said.

It confirmed what many court-watchers suspected. The 1996 federal law denies benefits to same-sex couples and defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The Supreme Court has been asked to hear five different challenges to DOMA that have been decided in lower courts, Brian Moulton, legal director of Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, told NBC.

The equal protection clause was an argument used in lower court challenges to DOMA.

A federal judge in New York declared the law unconstitutional and it's awaiting arguments before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled for Sept. 27, reports AP.