Nightly News   |  June 23, 2013

Supreme Court set to rule on gay marriage

The Supreme Court could make history this week with important decisions about issues like California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> the next few days could bring blockbuster decisions from the u.s. supreme court . once again, our justice correspondent pete williams .

>> reporter: the hot button issue of gay rights dominates an unusually long list of cases left to decide.

>> i can't remember a week that is as historic as the one we're about to see where you have at least three or four decisions that will lead the evening news and will be remembered for decades or even centuries.

>> reporter: two gay couples are challenging the proposition 8 in california.

>> we're no different than anyone else. marriage benefits us and doesn't harm you.

>> reporter: the court will rule on the defensive marriage act . it blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states where they're legal. in the three months since the court heard the state, legislator turs in three more states have agreed to permit. no way to know how that will influence the justices. the court will decide the fate of the most important civil rights law ever passed. it requires states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing how they conduct elections. selby county south of birmingham says the law is so outdated it's no longer constitutional.

>> the america that recollected barack obama is not the america of our grand parents and parents.

>> reporter: another case challenges affirmative action in school admissions. the you've of texas. when the case was argued last october, a majority including chief justice john rockets seems to find that too vague.

>> when will i know that you've reached a critical mass ?

>> reporter: one bit of drama we're not expecting is a retirement, the court's oldest justice ruth gator ginsberg shows no sign of slowing down.