There should be a lot of justified rejoicing in California and around the country with the striking down of the grossly and ironically misnamed "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and allowing the striking down of Prop 8 in California to stand (due to a technicality of legal standing).
Yesterday, the court admitted that racial discrimination and voter suppression continue to occur; they simply said that since the original list was made so long ago, and even though Congress re-approved it only six years ago after lengthy and detailed analysis of the current situation, Congress will have to create a new list. Until the new list is created, any state, no matter how bad their record or how recently their attempts to disenfranchise minority voters, can implement any schemes they devise to prevent minorities from voting, and the only way to stop them is through a lawsuit which can take many years to move through the courts. The courts recent rulings on class-action suits makes this method even more suspect as a way of preventing voter disenfranchisement.
This is the most activist and partisan, pro-business/anti-individual court in the last fifty years, and they are absolutely aware of the political implications of their decisions. They have calculated that under this demonstrably dysfunctional Congress that new list cannot be updated, perhaps for decades, so, while declaring the Voting Rights Act constitutional, they have, for all intents and purposes rendered it useless.
On the surface they appear to have done the right thing with DOMA and Prop 8, but again, their underlying machinations are problematic. DOMA was flagrantly discriminatory and unconstitutional, and they acknowledged this fact. This will be a huge boon to same-sex couples when it comes to federal rights in states that accept same-sex marriage, but in this decision and in Prop 8, they appear to have declared this a "states-rights" issue; therefore, according to these rulings, it may still be constitutional to ban gay marriage in individual states, and it may be constitutional for those states to continue to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. As a result, the federal government may also be able to deny federal protections (pensions, tax benefits, etc.) to same-sex couples in those anti-gay states. In other words, the Feds can't make a law outlawing same sex marriage; that would be unconstitutional; but the states can ban it, and the feds could create regulations that mimic the states.
These "narrow" rulings on clearly national issues are disingenuous, manipulative, and cowardly. "States' rights" rulings use the same rationale that recognizes Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade as the constitutional law of the land, a right to contraception and abortion that cannot be taken away by the government, yet they allow the individual states, as when Missouri attempted to limit birth control, or as Texas attempted last night to all but eliminate access to abortion as a practical reality, while not altering its constitutionality per se.