You are herePoliglot: BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Proposition 8 on Narrow Grounds

Poliglot: BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Proposition 8 on Narrow Grounds

-by Chris Geidner

February 7, 2012- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today affirmed the August 2010 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that California's 2008 amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional, deciding the case on narrow grounds relating to the facts of the amendment's impact, which the court notes was to "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California."

Same-sex couples cannot begin marrying in California today, however, as the court also kept in place its stay halting enforcement of the unconstitutionality decision for the time being.

The case, Perry v. Brown, was brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and featured a contrasting team of lawyers -- the conservative Ted Olson and liberal David Boies -- who waged a high-stakes trial in January 2010 and a high-profile public campaign to advance the cause of marriage equality.

In today's decision, Judge Stephen Reinhardt writes for the court:

We consider whether that amendment violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We conclude that it does.

Specifically, he wrote, "Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted."

As to the standing question -- whether the proponents had a right to asppeal the decision -- the court held that it was California's decision to make. "It is their prerogative, as independent sovereigns, to decide for themselves who may assert their interests and under what circumstances, and to bestow that authority accordingly." California, the court noted, decided that initiative proponents have such a right.

The court also denied the proponents' request that the trial court decision be vacated because Walker, the proponents asserted, should have recused himself because he is gay and had a long-term partner to whom he was not married.



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