The Secret the Supreme Court Knows And You Don’t

Here's what the justices discussed behind closed doors.

— -- When the 9 Supreme Court justices emerge from behind the velvet curtain to start a new term today, they will know more about a national secret than anyone else in the country: the future of gay marriage.

They have met behind closed doors and discussed pending cases, and they have some idea how their colleagues view the merits. They probably know when -- even if -- the Court will step in and decide it nationally.

Although they have plenty of cases currently on the docket, gay marriage is the issue looming over the term. Here’s a look at gay marriage by the numbers:

  • The Justices have met behind closed doors and discussed 7 cases challenging state bans in 5 different states. They have a good idea whether there is an appetite to step in now and decide the issue once and for all, or whether there is a sentiment that the highest court in the land should wait weeks or even months and let the issue percolate in courts across the country.
  • It takes 4 Justices to agree to hear a case, but 5 for a majority. Four justices eager to take a gay marriage case might want to make sure they have the pivotal 5th vote before moving forward.
  • There are currently 92 pending cases regarding gay marriage across the country, 59 in federal court and 33 in state court, according to the ACLU.
  • Currently gay couples can marry in 19 states, while 31 states have same sex marriage bans.
  • If the Supreme Court were to defy the pundits and choose to deny the cases in front of the Court, injunctions would be lifted and in short order there would likely be 30 states that would allow gay marriage.
  • In 2013, there were an estimated 690,000 same-sex couples in the US, of whom approximately 124,000 were married. An estimated 30,000 children under age 18 have married same-sex parents while 170,000 have unmarried same-sex parents. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.