November 17, 2011
By Adam Bink
Today, the California Supreme Court will issue its opinion regarding whether the proponents of ballot initiatives have authority to represent the state of California when the state’s public officials (governor and attorney general) decline to do so. The specific case around which this arises is Perry v. Brown and the proponents being ProtectMarriage.com et al, e.g., the people who filed and helped pass the ballot initiative. It was referred to the California Supreme Court by the 9th Circuit, which will take the California Supreme Court’s opinion and then issue a ruling in the case down the road.
Some background and links:
- You can read more about how we got to this point in the case and why today’s opinion is important in yesterday’s preview post.
- The decision will come down at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST today. Jacob Combs, Prop8TrialTracker.com’s writing intern, will have the decision up as soon as it comes in, and update that post with coverage and reaction throughout the rest of the day. Be sure to refresh the post for updates when it goes up. We’ll also have legal commentary from Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who led the legal team for the In re Marriage Cases decision before the California Supreme Court in 2008, among others.
- Meanwhile, on the preview side of things, many questions have come in on how long it would take for the 9th Circuit to turn around a decision in Perry v. Brown after today’s opinion is issued, and the timeline from there. Lyle at SCOTUSBlog has a thought on the timeline for the case:
Although both sides in the historic lawsuit over the gay marriage ban have expected their dispute ultimately to reach the Supreme Court, it now seems quite unlikely that the case will move fast enough in federal court from here on to reach the Justices in time for a decision during the current Term. A case must be ready for the Justices to consider by no later than the end of January in order for it to be decided in the current Term, which is likely to end late next June. The Circuit Court is considering the Proposition 8 case on an expedited basis, but it is doubtful that it could act quickly enough, and that preliminary filings in the Supreme Court could be made soon enough, for the case to be ready within the next two and a half months.
- Elsewhere, Ari Ezra Waldman has an interesting meta piece at Towleroad on the implications of the Perry case overall.
- If you’d like to read the live-blogging transcript of arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue, you can find it here. If you’d like to read the arguments before the California Supreme Court back in September, you can find them here. From a legal point of view on whether people should be allowed to stand in for duly elected officials in court (and for the sake of trying to divine how the Court will rule today), they are fascinating.
- Many folks in the comments yesterday opined on whether the California Supreme Court will rule that state law allows for ballot proponents to have standing to represent the state. What’s your prediction of today?
- There’s also a robust debate being had over whether the case should be decided on the merits (e.g. whether Prop 8 is constitutional or not) versus standing (which many people refer to as a more technical issue). Remember that if the proponents of Prop 8 are found to not have standing and that is held up on appeal, the case is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and Prop 8 ends. On the one hand, many hope the California Supreme Court decides in favor of standing for ballot proponents and the 9th Circuit ultimately grants standing for the Prop 8 backers to represent the state in court so that a final decision can be had on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and perhaps even marriage equality nationwide, e.g. whether laws and constitutions across many states that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, many others wish to see Prop 8 end however it can. Aside from the serious implications of whether ballot proponents can represent the state in California instead of elected officials, one way to view this is that there are two bites at the apple to take down Prop 8: constitutionality and standing. For the sake of allowing couples who desperately wish to wed — some, like Ed and Derence in Palm Springs, with serious medical conditions like Alzheimer’s threatening their right to the pursuit of happiness — many just want Prop 8 to end however it can end, standing or otherwise. There is also a concern on the merits side that 5 Justices cannot be had on the U.S. Supreme Court who find Prop 8 to be unconstitutional. What do you think?
- We’ll see you when the ruling comes down later today.