This was a hugely important week for LGBT Americans as well as advocates for equality for all citizens because the Supreme Court heard cases regarding California's Proposition 8 as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It was also, however, a very important week for the Supreme Court. The Court may or may not decide to overturn both of these discriminatory pieces of legislation, but it is clear that the arc of history is again bending towards equality. LGBT Americans are winning; and those that would continue to seek to deny equality to all Americans are losing. This puts the Court in the position of either helping to bring about an inevitable, and positive, change, or of being conspicuous in support of bigoted laws and prejudices from another era.
The relative ease with which Elena Kagan is almost certain to be confirmed for the Supreme Court is a political victory for the White House and tells us a few important things about the current political environment. Kagan's imminent confirmation, particularly when paired with Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation last year, demonstrates that when the White House is faced with contained and discrete political choices, they are able to make good decisions. The Obama administration has nominated two relatively uncontroversial, qualified candidates. Sotomayor raised some partisan ire, more for her "wise Latina" comment than for her record, while the Republican attacks on Kagan have focused on the activist judge fear mongering which is really little more than poorly concealed partisan politics, but these criticisms got little traction outside of the Republican base.