Editor’s Note: We’ll have more tonight at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the Supreme Court’s rulings. Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin will join Anderson, as will columnist Andrew Sullivan and Jean Podrasky, Chief Justice John Roberts' gay cousin will react to today's rulings along with her partner.
Today, voting 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denied hundreds of federal benefits to same-sex couples. The high court said legally married same-sex couples must receive the same benefits provided to heterosexual couples. The act had defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, but the court said the law violated the rights of same-sex couples by demoting their marriages to second-class status when compared to their heterosexual peers.
In another landmark case, the justices, in a 5 to 4 decision, also handed a victory to same-sex proponents when it cleared the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in California, dismissing an appeal to the state's voter-approved Proposition 8 that banned such marriages.
The Supreme Court sided on Tuesday with adoptive parents in a divisive custody fight over a Native American child after the biological father asserted his parental rights. The justices, by a 5-4 margin, said the adoption by a white couple was proper and did not intrude on the federal rights of the father, a registered member of the Cherokee tribe, over where his daughter, Veronica, 3, would live. The court said the father could not rely on the Indian Child Welfare Act for relief because he never had legal or physical custody at the time of adoption proceedings, which were initiated by the birth mother without his knowledge.
Here’s the AC360 411 on the U.S. Supreme Court:
9 – The number of current U.S. Supreme Court justices.
112 – The number of U.S. Supreme Court Justices over the years, including 17 Chief Justices.
11 – The number of justices appointed by Pres. George Washington during his term, the most ever.
0 – The number of justices appointed by Pres. Jimmy Carter, the only president to serve a full term and not fill a seat.
1 – The number of justices who also served as President of the U.S. That’s William Howard Taft who was Chief Justice from 1921-1930 after living in the White House from 1909-1913.
32 – The age of the youngest Supreme Court appointee, Joseph Story who served from 1811-1845.
90 – The age of the oldest sitting justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, when he resigned in 1932. He served for 30 years.
10,000 – The number of cases on the Supreme Court’s docket per term.
80 to 90 – The number of cases it actually delivers opinions on each term.
16 – The average number of years a justice serves on the Court.
1 – The number of justices currently on the court WHO got a law degree from Columbia University (Ginsberg), all others graduated from Harvard or Yale Law School.
2 – The number of justices who were named John Marshall Harlan. The first served from 1877 to 1911. The second, his grandson, served from 1955 to 1971.
1935 – The year the U.S. Supreme Court building opened, the 146th year of THE COURT'S existence. Before then it did its business in the U.S. Capitol and various other places, including a tavern.
5th - The floor in the U.S. Supreme Court building where you’ll find a basketball court, aptly nicknamed “The highest court in the land.”
$223,500 - The annual salary for Chief Justice John Roberts.
$213,900 – The annual salary for each Associate Justice.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with