The California Supreme Court has refused to move up the timing of its review of a key issue on gay marriage rights in the state, leaving intact a prior schedule that will run at least through next fall before a ruling could emerge.  Gay couples challenging the state’s Proposition 8 ban on marriage for same-sex couples on Wednesday sent a copy of the state court’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court, where they already have made a plea to allow such couples to get married now.

While the Circuit Court has held a hearing on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 under the federal Constitution, the three-judge panel has asked the state Supreme Court to give it legal advice on whether anyone in California can defend that ballot measure in court since state officials have refused to do so.  The Circuit Court said it needs an answer to that question before it can decide whether anyone has a right to carry on the case for Proposition 8 in federal court — that is, the “standing” issue.

While same-sex couples are eager to have the issue resolved quickly, the state Supreme Court had set a briefing schedule that would lead to an oral argument in early Sepember, but not before.  That would suggest there would be no decision there until later in the fall, if then.   Because of that stretched-out schedule, the opponents of Proposition 8 asked the state court to shorten the schedule so that oral argument would be heard on May 23.  Without saying why, the state court on Tuesday denied that request.  On Wednesday, the gay couples’ lawyers passed that order on to the Circuit Court as a “courtesy.”

The aim of doing so, it appeared, was to bolster the couples’ plea for the Circuit Court to end an existing stay of District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s decision last August, striking down Proposition 8 under the U.S. Constitution.  Because of that stay, no same-sex couple in California can obtain a marriage license in the state to pursue the right that Judge Walker concluded that they have.   The state of California supports the plea to lift that stay.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, No speed-up on Prop. 8, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 2, 2011, 5:53 PM),