A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

California AG urges Supreme Court to overturn same-sex marriage ban

California Attorney General Kamala Harris [official profile] on Wednesday filed [press release] an amicus curiae brief [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] imposed by the state's Proposition 8 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional and should therefore be overturned. In particular, Harris contended that the purpose of the ban "was to take away the right of gay and lesbians couples to call their union a 'marriage' and to strip loving relationships of validation and dignity under the law," and thus should be deemed in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause [text; Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text]. She added that this purpose is unsupported by a legitimate or rational state interest, and that California actually has a state interest in protecting children to see the law invalidated, as 50,000 children are being raised by same-sex parents and should not risk "feeling inferior because their family unit is not validated or honored by the law." In an additional argument, Harris contended that the federal government sponsors of Proposition 8 cannot defend the law in the Supreme Court because they lack proper legal standing to bring an appeal. Unlike state officials, she argued, federal officials "lack enforcement authority" and therefore do not suffer a necessary injury-in-fact as a result of a district court's judgment. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case, Hollingsworth v. Perry [docket], on March 26.

The issue of same-sex marriage is an ongoing controversy in the US. Earlier this week businesses, cities, and other organizations filed two amicus curiae briefs [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court also in support of same-sex marriage, urging the court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text, PDF] in US v. Windsor [docket] in addition to Proposition 8. Also this week, attorneys for Edith Windsor [NYT profile], the plaintiff, filed a brief [JURIST report] with the court arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional. Last week, three other briefs were filed [JURIST report], including one written by the US Office of the Solicitor General [official website], which argued that DOMA is unconstitutional, and one written by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which defended the law's constitutionality. Last month, the Supreme Court received briefs in both cases defending the constitutionality [JURIST report] of both Proposition 8 and Section 3 of DOMA. The court granted certiorari in both cases [JURIST report] in December.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.