Justice Sotomayor to lead Times Square’s New Year’s Eve countdown as she considers stay in Utah marriage case

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lead the final 60-second New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square by pushing the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the event’s famous ball. The giant New Year’s Eve ball is covered in more than 2,600 crystal triangles and lit from within by more than 32,000 lights.

Sotomayor, a Bronx native, was appointed to the court in 2009.

Sotomayor also is in the news in connection with a federal judge’s ruling that Utah’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Sotomayor, who has jurisdiction over Utah, may be the justice to consider an emergency injunction halting the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in the state until an appeals court can consider the case.

As of early Dec. 30, the state had not filed its request for a stay with the Supreme Court. If and when the requst is filed, Sotomayor could decide the issue herself or refer the request to the full court.

More than 1,000 same-sex couples have already married since Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision that the state’s anti-gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Shelby refused to stay his decision pending an appeal, as did the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Shelby’s decision not to halt the marriages, he cited right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia’s scathing dissent in United States v.Windsor, the case that found part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Scalia wrote, “As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion . . .  is that DOMA is motivated by ‘bare . . . desire to harm’ couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.”

Shelby wrote that he agreed with Scalia’s assessment of the ruling.