Dec 06, 2010

Prop 8 Oral Argument In the Books

Today, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the appeal of federal district court judge Vaughn Walker's decision in the case challenging Proposition 8, which added an amendment to California's constitution limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. 

The Ninth Circuit panel questioned the attorneys on two issues: First, whether either the Prop 8 proponents and the County of Imperial have standing to bring the appeal in the first place, and second, whether Judge Walker's decision was correct on the merits--in other words, whether Prop 8 was valid under the United States Constitution. The judges clearly had prepared carefully, and asked probing questions of both sides; it's very difficult to predict what the outcome will be, but the possibilities include:

  • The Ninth Circuit could ask the California Supreme Court to weigh in on the standing issue, delaying the case until that issue is resolved.
  • The Ninth Circuit could rule the proponents don't have standing and not reach the merits of the Constitutional argument, in which case the proponents would probably appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the standing issue.
  • The Ninth Circuit could rule that the proponents do have standing, and then rule on the merits, in which case the losing party would undoubtedly appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
There's interesting analysis of the oral argument at Nan Hunter's blog and some details in this SF Chronicle article