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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 3 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 31
Prop 8 supporters ask Supreme Court to hear appeal
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Prop 8 supporters ask Supreme Court to hear appeal

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Supporters of Prop 8, the ballot initiative that wiped out equal marriage rights in California, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

In a filing on July 31, they asked the high court to determine '[w]hether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.'

Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in August 2010 that Prop 8 violated both the equal protection and the due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution because it revoked marriage rights for only one category of people - same-sex couples.

A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walker's decision in February of this year. In June, a majority of the Ninth Circuit denied Prop 8 supporters' request for an en banc, or full-court, hearing.

Prop 8 supporters then asked the Supreme Court to reverse what they called the 'manifest errors' of the Ninth Circuit Court decision.

'Unique recognition of a unique relationship in no way disapproves or dishonors other relationships that the State has chosen to recognize differently,' Prop 8 supporters said in their filing.

They demanded that the Supreme Court 'return to the People themselves this important and sensitive issue,' presumably by allowing Prop 8 to stand and therefore rejecting marriage equality in California.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which filed the suit challenging Prop 8's constitutionality in 2009, now has 30 days to respond to the filing.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY SIDE OPPOSES REVIEW
David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyers for two same-sex couples who challenged Prop 8 after its passage, said they would oppose review by the Supreme Court.

'The Supreme Court has long held that the freedom to marry is one of the most fundamental rights - if not the most fundamental right - of all Americans,' Boies said. 'Today's petition presents the justices with the chance to affirm our Constitution's central promises of liberty, equality, and human dignity.'

The Supreme Court is now in its summer recess, and will not hear any cases until they reconvene in the fall. They are not obligated to take any case, but will hear appeals if four of the nine justices vote to do so.

Unlike the three DOMA cases that have also been appealed to the Supreme Court, the Prop 8 case would only affect marriage in the state of California.

The Ninth Circuit ruling against Prop 8 was narrowly written. Rather than finding an affirmative constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, the majority based its decision on a 1996 Supreme Court precedent that said a majority may not take away a minority's rights without legitimate reasons. Many legal experts believe this would make it difficult for the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

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