Prop. 8 decision expected early next year — on path to U.S. Supreme Court

There’s been lots of news and commentary about the Prop. 8 oral arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. During our live chat, we got expert commentary from USC Constitutional Law Professor David Cruz. There are complicated issues of standing to resolve before the judges even get to the merits.

Lisa Keen was in San Francisco for the hearing and provides an overview. She is spot on here:

Any pre-courtroom second-guessing that observers may have harbored over the political leanings of the three judges seemed to be put to rest fairly quickly, as the judges vigorously challenged each side’s arguments on both matters before the court—Yes on 8 and Imperial County’s legal qualification (standing) to appeal and the validity of Walker’s declaration that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That’s right. No one knows how this will turn out — except for the three judges on the panel.

Keen talked to several of the LGBT legal experts who were at the hearing:

Jenny Pizer, head of Lambda Legal Defense’s Marriage Project, said she wouldn’t be surprised if the panel’s eventual ruling includes “multiple decisions” on how they reached the same outcome “with different reasonings.”

“And if they conclude Prop 8 is invalid while disagreeing about the details of why,” said Pizer, “that may be just fine.”

And, she got the word from one of the key players in the lawsuit:

The panel is expected to render its decision on both the standing issue and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 within a few months. Boies speculated during a post-argument press conference that the earliest the panel would likely render a decision is early next year and the earliest the case might be heard by the Supreme Court—during its almost inevitable appeal—would be 2012.

It is almost inevitable.

One important, non-legal, lesson from the hearing is that elections matter. The current Governor and Attorney General of California would not defend Prop. 8. The next Governor and Attorney General won’t either.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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