California Supreme Court Will Hear Prop. 8 Lawsuits


It’s on. The California Supreme Court ruled today that it will hear lawsuits filed by marriage equality advocates to overturn Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, though the court has refused to prevent the ban from going into effect.

The high court’s decision paves the way for what is certain to be one of the largest and most closely-watched civil rights cases in U.S. history.

The court has decided to handle all aspects of the Prop. 8 controversy in one case and when it convenes next year, it will answer the following questions:

“Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?

Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?”

The court directed Attorney General Jerry Brown and Yes on 8 lawyers to submit arguments by December 9th and gave the plaintiff’s til January 5th. The court gives amicus curae or “friend of the court” briefs til January 15th to be filed, with responses to those briefs due by Jan. 31.  Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton said the court may hear the case as soon as March.

The battle over Prop. 8 has already led some of the measure’s supporters vowing they will stage a recall of any judge who votes to overturn the proposition, which is an option under California law. Legal scholars agree that the Supreme Court has very little prior case law on which to base their decison, which will make the decison to overturn the will of the voter’s all the more difficult.

The Supreme Court also removed Secretary of State Debra Bowen from the suit while adding the official proponents of Prop. 8 . The Campaign for California Families sought to be added as party to the lawsuits out of fear Attorney General Jerry Brown would not properly defend the proposition, but the Supreme Court denied their request.

The State of California, the Attorney General, the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and the Deputy Director of Health Information and Strategic Planning of the California Department of Public Health have all be ordered to show cause as to why Proposition 8 should stand.