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Ninth Circuit hears arguments on California same-sex marriage ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [video] Monday in Perry v. Schwarzenegger [case materials] on Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], California's same-sex marriage ban. The hearing was divided into two one-hour sessions, with the first section focusing on the issue of standing, and the second focusing on Proposition 8's constitutionality. A federal judge struck down Proposition 8 [JURIST report] in August. Lawyers for parties seeking to appeal, including Proposition 8 supporters Protect Marriage [advocacy website] and Imperial County, California, deputy clerk Isabel Vargas argued that their clients had standing to defend the measure, while lawyers for Proposition 8 opponents argued that there was no injury suffered by the appellants. The opponents also argued that there was no constitutional basis for denying same-sex couples the right to marry. The proceedings were televised live on C-SPAN.

In October, lawyers representing the city of San Francisco submitted a brief [text, PDF] arguing that Proposition 8 is irrational under California state law [JURIST report]. In September, officials in Imperial County, California, also submitted a brief [JURIST report] appealing the federal court's decision finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The appeal came just days after supporters of Proposition 8 filed a brief [JURIST report] seeking standing in order to file the appeal. Earlier in the month, a judge for the California Court of Appeal, 3rd Appellate District [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Attorney General Jerry Brown [official websites] is required to appeal the decision of the district court. In August, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit issued a stay [JURIST report] of district court's decision, pending appeal. Schwarzenegger, Brown and others filed motions [JURIST report] opposing the stay request. Schwarzenegger and Brown were originally defendants in the lawsuit, and their refusal to oppose the stay left defendant-intervenors Project Marriage 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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