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Supreme Court urged to deny review of California Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban

Opponents of Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], California's statewide ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] urged the US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday not to grant the petition for a writ of certiorari submitted [JURIST report] by Proposition 8 supporters. The petition was filed last month after a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] in February voted 2-1 to overturn the ban and subsequently denied the supporters' petition for an en banc rehearing [JURIST reports]. The Proposition 8 challengers urged the court to deny certiorari [SCOTUSblog report], arguing [brief, PDF] that the court should wait to address state marriage rights for same-sex couples and instead focus on the six pending same-sex marriage cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. The argument is that the court will be better able to evaluate the case after the constitutionality of DOMA has been decided. Furthermore, while the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] struck down Proposition 8 [JURIST report] in a sweeping ruling that declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, the case now before the court concerns the much narrower ruling by the Ninth Circuit, which declined to rule on the right-to-marry issue, holding only that Proposition 8 is invalid because California had for a brief period allowed same-sex marriages, and then took away that right. The challengers argue that because the Ninth Circuit simply applied existing Supreme Court precedent in Romer v. Evans [Lambda Legal backgrounder], no new legal ground was explored and therefore the case does not meet the Supreme Court's traditional standards for review. The challengers further stated that there is no conflict among the federal courts on the issue, because the Proposition 8 cases dealt strictly with legal happenings in the state of California and nowhere else. Additionally they argue that the supporters of Proposition 8 lack standing [Cornell LII backgrounder] to request the review because they would not be personally injured if same-sex couples were allowed to marry.

Proposition 8 was struck down as a violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses [Cornell LII backgrounders] of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit initially heard arguments on Proposition 8's constitutionality in December 2010, but then asked the California Supreme Court [JURIST reports] to rule on whether defendants had standing to appeal. The state high court ruled in November that they did have standing [JURIST report]. Several jurisdictions in the US have legalized same-sex marriage, including the District of Columbia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York [JURIST reports] and the Suquamish [NYT report] and Coquille Indian Tribes [OregonLive report].

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