Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Will the Court Rule on Prop 8 Today?

California Proposition 8, the "Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment" (proponents called it the "California Marriage Protection Act") was passed in 2008, to make same-sex marriage illegal in that state. In 2010 the law was overturned in US District Court based on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and in September 2011 the California Supreme Court ruled that proponents of the bill had standing to appeal the decision. This is a very compressed version of the story.

It is expected that the court will rule today.

The NPR blog has a summary:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals plans to release its ruling on the constitutionality of Calfornia's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state, at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday (10 a.m. in California), the court just announced.

As NPR's Richard Gonzales reported in November, Prop 8 was "struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge more than a year ago. Both former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then attorney general Jerry Brown took the unusual position of declining to appeal, so the sponsors of Prop 8 took it upon themselves to file an appeal before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."

Richard added that "regardless of the finding, the 9th Circuit is expected by all parties to be just a legal stop before the matter goes to the U.S. Supreme Court." 'Prop 8' Ruling Expected Tuesday; California Measure Banned Gay Marriage

The California court has set up a web site about the case, including this notice, posted yesterday:
February 6, 2012

Advance Notice of Opinion Filing

The Court anticipates filing an opinion tomorrow (Tuesday, February 7) by 10:00 a.m. in Perry v. Brown, case numbers 10-16696 and 11-16577, regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgement in the case. A summary of the opinion prepared by court staff will be posted along with the opinion.

Ten in the morning in California is one in the afternoon here on the East Coast. This is a big deal. It may turn out to be unconstitutional to prohibit marriages between people of the same sex. And of course it may turn out that states can force couples to meet a government-imposed gender standard before they can marry. We can't guess how the court will rule.

Our own Maryland state legislature is in session, and it has been anticipated that a marriage equality bill will make it to a vote this year. Let's see what they decide in California -- I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that if it is unconstitutional to prohibit marriages between gay people then there is no need for states to struggle to pass bills allowing it. Of course, it will still have to get past the US Supreme Court, not a done deal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prop 8, California's Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Declared Unconstitutional

"SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

It was unclear when gay marriages might resume in California. Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have repeatedly said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling from the 9th Circuit.

"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," the ruling states.

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed before he issued his decision that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

The ruling came more than a year after the appeals court heard arguments in the case.

Proposition 8 backers had asked the 9th Circuit to set aside Walker's ruling on both constitutional grounds and because of the thorny issue of the judge's personal life. It was the first instance of an American jurist's sexual orientation being cited as grounds for overturning a court decision.

Walker publicly revealed he was gay after he retired. However, supporters of the gay marriage ban argued that he had been obliged to previously reveal if he wanted to marry his partner – like the gay couples who sued to overturn the ban.

Walker's successor as the chief federal judge in Northern California, James Ware, rejected those claims, and the 9th Circuit held a hearing on the conflict-of-interest question in December.


February 07, 2012 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOP obstruction illustrated by one chart

February 08, 2012 12:43 PM  
Anonymous One more state legalizes marriage equality said...

"A bill to legalize gay marriage in Washington state won final legislative approval on Wednesday in a largely party-line vote that moved the state to the cusp of becoming the seventh in the nation to recognize same-sex nuptials.

Washington's Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire said she looked forward to signing the measure and "putting into law an end to an era of discrimination" even as opponents, led by religious conservatives, vowed to seek its repeal at the polls in November.

The approval in the state House of Representatives came a day after gay marriage advocates won a key legal victory in California when a federal appeals court declared a voter-approved gay marriage ban in that state unconstitutional.

The Washington legislation cleared the state House of Representatives by a vote of 55-43, a week after the state Senate passed it by a 28-21 vote. Democrats, accounting for the lion's share of support for the bill, control both legislative bodies in Olympia.

Several prominent Washington-based companies employing tens of thousands of workers in the state also endorsed the bill, including Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks.

Supporters of same-sex marriage are pushing similar statutes in Maryland and New Jersey, and a referendum to legalize gay marriage in Maine has qualified for the November ballot there.

Six other states already recognize gay marriage -- New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa -- as does the District of Columbia."

February 09, 2012 10:31 AM  

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