Thursday, August 15, 2013
State Supreme Court Rejects Petition to Revive Proposition 8
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
The California Supreme Court yesterday denied a bid by sponsors of Proposition 8 to revive enforcement of the measure that blocked same-sex couples from marrying in the state from 2008 until this past June.
In a one-sentence order with no legal explanation, and without dissent, the justices denied a writ petition filed by ProtectMarriage and other opponents of same-sex marriage.
Austin R. Nimocks, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that wants to end gay marriage, said the ruling does not end the debate in California. He called on lawmakers to ban gay marriage but declined to say whether another legal challenge will be filed.
“Though the current California officials are unwilling to enforce the state constitution, we remain hopeful that one day Californians will elect officials who will,” he said.
Supporters of gay marriage were girding for a continued fight.
“By now, I suppose we know better than to predict that Prop. 8 proponents will actually give up their fight,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “But it’s certainly fair to say that their remaining legal proponents will actually give up their fight,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “But it’s certainly fair to say that their remaining legal options are increasingly absurd.”
Attorney General Kamala Harris, who refused to defend Proposition 8 and performed the first same-sex marriage ceremony after the Ninth Circuit lifted its previous stay of Judge Vaughn Walker’s injunction barring enforcement of Proposition 8, tweeted:
“Once again, equality & freedom triumph in CA. I will continue to defend the civil rights of all Californians.”
In its petition, ProtectMarriage argued that state officials who began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples had incorrectly interpreted the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declined to hear a challenge to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Proposition 8.
High Court Ruling
The high court ruled that ProtectMarriage lacked standing to challenge that ruling. ProtectMarriage, however, argued that Proposition 8 remains good law because the U.S. Supreme Court, by relying on standing, didn’t rule directly on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in Perry v. Hollingsworth.
The petitioners also argued that the original lawsuit filed in San Francisco named only the county clerks of Los Angeles and Alameda counties as defendants and that clerks in the other 56 counties had to abide by Proposition 8.
San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg Jr. also had filed a writ petition, arguing that—as an independently elected county official—he could not be compelled to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But he withdrew his petition earlier this month, saying his challenge was too similar to that of the Proposition 8 sponsors to merit a separate legal bid. Twenty other clerks filed papers opposing Dronenburg’s petition.
State officials argued that the state courts could not interfere with the enforcement of the now-unstayed injunction issued by then-U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California three years ago.
The state Supreme Court in 2008 ruled 4-3 that the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the state Constitution’s equal protection clause. That led ProtectMarriage and its supporters to place Proposition 8 on the ballot, and it was approved by 52 percent of the voters.
Walker, however, ruled that Proposition 8 violated equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution by denying the two California couples a chance to marry in the state. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction, but limited the scope of its opinion by applying it only to situations where a state, as California previously did, has adopted broad, marriage-like rights for same-sex couples but not granted the right to marry.
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