Prop 8 case heads back to court in September

Posted on 29 Jul 2011 at 12:31pm
Retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker

The next hearing in the legal battle over Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, will take place before the state’s Supreme Court on Sept. 6.

The issue is whether the ballot initiative’s sponsors have standing to appeal a federal district judge’s ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to appeal the ruling. Brown is now governor and maintains his position in the case.

The hearing will take place in San Francisco and the justices have 90 days to decide whether they believe state law gives ballot measure proponents legal standing when the elected officials refuses to defend an issue, according to the LA Times.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will wait for the state Supreme Court’s decision before proceeding.

If Prop 8 backers don’t have standing, the appeals court won’t take up the merits of the appeal. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling will stand and Prop 8 will be unconstitutional. California would then allow same-sex marriage, as it did for six months before Prop 8 passed in 2008.

If Prop 8 backers do have standing, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would consider the merits of the case.

The LA Times reports that while the state Supreme Court has given sponsors of propositions wide latitude, the court has never ruled on whether citizens can stand in for elected officials, especially on an issue that doesn’t affect them.

Presumably, the proponents of Prop 8 were trying to prevent other people from marrying and having civil rights — as opposed to campaigning for a ban to prevent themselves from marrying.

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