17 Nov Good News for California’s Prop 8!
Members of the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday, that the proponents of Proposition 8 have the right under state law to defend the 2008 California marriage amendment in federal court. You will recall that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit threw the case back to the California Supreme Court to render an opinion as to whether or not Prop 8 sponsors had “standing” to defend the voter approved amendment to California’s constitution.
You can see the text of the new ruling here.
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Brian Raum:
“The court was clearly right to conclude that the California marriage amendment should not go undefended just because state officials have refused to defend it… Otherwise, state officials would have succeeded in indirectly invalidating a measure that they had no power to strike down directly.”
The ruling itself states that allowing the marriage amendment sponsors to become the defenders “assures voters who supported the measure and enacted it into law that any residual hostility or indifference of current public officials to the substance of the initiative measure will not prevent a full and robust defense of the measure to be mounted in court on the people’s behalf.”
The attorneys for the same-sex couples who brought the constitutional challenge in the first place had argued that the sponsors of the Prop 8 ballot measure had no more personal interest in defending it than anyone else in the state who had voted for the amendment and they as a sponsoring group would not be harmed if the amendment was voided. The California Court didn’t fall for that line of reasoning and stated that they had a “unique relationships to the initiative measure” and were the most obvious and logical persons to defend the measure.
Here’s a timeline for California’s Prop 8:
- February 12, 2004, Mayor of San Francisco illegally begins issuing “same-sex” marriages licenses. On March 11, 2004, the California Supreme Court ordered officials of San Francisco to stop.
- May 15, 2008, California Court strikes down two statutory laws that banned same-sex marriage – one from 1977 and California’s DOMA law know as Proposition 22 – passed in the year 2000.
- On June 19, 2008, the California Superior Court ordered magistrates and country clerks to begin allowing same-sex marriage.
- November 5, 2008, the citizens of California pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
- On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturns Prop 8 in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruling that Prop 8 violated both due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
- August 12, 2010, Judge Walker announces his decision to “lift the stay” and allow same-sex marriages to begin again. August 16, 2010, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit indefinitely extended the stay pending appeal of the decision of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
- January 4, 2011, the Ninth Circuit certified a question to the California Supreme Court, asking the state court to decide if the proponents of Prop 8 had “standing” to appeal the case.
- September, 2011, the California Supreme Court heard Oral arguments on the question of “standing.”
- November 17, 2011, the State Court issues opinion that proponents of Prop 8 do have “standing” to defend the measure in federal court.
Where does it go from here?
The case returns to the 9th Circuit where that body still has to make a formal decision on whether to accept the opinion of the California State Court on the question of “standing.” It is assumed that they will agree that Prop 8 defenders have standing. Then Perry v. Schwarzenegger case will proceed with three judges making the decision on whether or not Prop 8 is constitutional.
No matter how they rule, the case is most certainly on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and it matters not just to California, but to the entire country. To read an analysis of the import and impact of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, go here.