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California high court refuses to order state appeal of same-sex marriage ruling

The California Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday denied a request from a conservative group to order Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown [official profiles] to appeal the federal court ruling that struck down the controversial ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The request was brought by the Pacific Justice Institute [advocacy website] in an attempt to force a state government appeal [San Francisco Chronicle report] of last month's federal court ruling [JURIST report] that found Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, unconstitutional. The supreme court denied the request without a hearing and offered no explanation for its decision. A judge for the 3rd District Court of Appeal [official website] declined [JURIST report] a similar request last week. The requests have raised questions of whether anyone has standing to defend Proposition 8 in court. PCJ argues [press release] that the governor and attorney general have a state constitutional duty to defend Prop 8 because it was a "voter-approved affirmation of traditional marriage." The deadline for the governor and the attorney general to appeal the reversal of Proposition 8 is September 11.

Last month, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] issued a stay [JURIST report] of Judge Vaughn Walker's decision overturning Proposition 8 pending appeal. Earlier last month, Walker held that the same-sex marriage ban violated the guarantees of due process and equal protection under the US Constitution, but immediately stayed the ruling. Schwarzenegger, Brown and others filed motions [JURIST report] opposing the stay request, which led to Walker's refusal to issue a stay pending appeal. Schwarzenegger and Brown were originally defendants in the lawsuit against Proposition 8, and their refusal to oppose the stay request left defendant-intervenors Protect Marriage [advocacy website] and other groups to defend the law. The remaining defendant-intervenors have indicated they will, if necessary, appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.

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