Ninth Circuit stays Prop 8 ruling

The Ninth Circuit has put on hold an August 4 federal court ruling that overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriages. Responding to a request by backers of Proposition 8, the motions panel of the appeals court said the prohibition on same-sex marriages would remain until a three-judge panel can begin wrestling with an appeal later this year. The court has fast-tracked the appeal, agreeing to take up the case the week of December 6.

Legal analysts have questioned whether backers of Proposition 8 have legal standing to appeal the Aug. 4 ruling because they are “intervenors,” not defendants, in the case (the state refused to defend Prop. 8). Judge Vaughn Walker said they do not have standing, in his view. The appeals court acknowledged that issue today, telling both sides to include in their opening briefs “a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing.”

To get legal standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, Prop 8 backers would conceivably need to show that Judge Walker’s ruling allowing same-sex marriages directly harms them.  But Prop. 8 backers said in a recent court filing that California law “allows proponents to defend initiatives they have sponsored when government officials ‘might not do so with vigor’ in order ‘to guard the people’s right to exercise initiative power.’ ”

“Proponents also have standing to appeal because of their own particularized interest in defending an initiative they have successfully sponsored, an interest that is created and secured by California law,” the filing said.

But opponents of Prop. 8 disputed that view. “The Supreme Court has never ‘identified initiative proponents as Article-III-qualified defenders of the measures they advocated,’ ” they wrote in their brief.

The opening brief is due Sept. 17th.

Court Prop 8 website

PDF of today’s order

Intervenors reply in support of stay (pdf)

Text of the order:

Filed order (EDWARD LEAVY, MICHAEL DALY HAWKINS and SIDNEY R. THOMAS) Appellants’ motion for a stay of the district court’s order of August 4, 2010 pending appeal is GRANTED. The court sua sponte orders that this appeal be expedited pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 2. The provisions of Ninth Circuit Rule 31-2.2(a) (pertaining to grants of time extensions) shall not apply to this appeal. This appeal shall be calendared during the week of December 6, 2010, at The James R. Browning Courthouse in San Francisco, California. The previously established briefing schedule is vacated. The opening brief is now due September 17, 2010. The answering brief is due October 18, 2010. The reply brief is due November 1, 2010. In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing. See Arizonans For Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 66 (1997). IT IS SO ORDERED. [7441574] (JS)


3 Responses to “Ninth Circuit stays Prop 8 ruling”

  1. What does Article 3 standing mean?

  2. The backers of Prop 8 were not the defendants in this lawsuit. The state of California was. Prop 8 backers intervened in the case as interested parties when the state refused to defend itself. Even though Prop 8 proponents defended the case in court, they are not covered or enjoined by any court rulings. So there is some question as to whether they can appeal an order that does not directly affect them.

    A review of this issue is here.

  3. [...] proponents of the same-sex marriage ban have a right to defend Proposition 8 in court. Yesterday, a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made it clear that question is high on their agenda. First, they granted a stay on Chief Judge [...]

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