Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Proposition 8 gay marriage case heads to Supreme Court

June 5, 2012 by Lyle Denniston


Setting up an appeal to the Supreme Court on the volatile constitutional issue of same-sex marriage, the federal appeals court in San Francisco has refused to reconsider a decision that nullified California’s “Proposition 8.”

That ballot measure changed the state’s constitution to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, taking away a marriage right that gays and lesbians had won from the state Supreme Court.

No new gay marriages can be performed in California for the time being, though, because the Ninth Circuit Court postponed its decision for 90 days to allow the supporters of Proposition 8 to appeal to the Supreme Court.

That appeal is considered to be inevitable, although it is up to the justices to agree to hear the case, or to bypass.  Review is not mandatory.

The case almost certainly would not be heard by the Supreme Court until December 2012 at the earliest.

The justices are likely to recess for the summer later this month, with no plan to return to work until shortly before the new term starts next October 1.

Thus, any hearing on the case would be after the November elections.

Lyle Denniston is the National Constitution Center’s Adviser on Constitutional Literacy. He has reported on the Supreme Court for 54 years, currently covering it for SCOTUSblog, an online clearinghouse of information about the Supreme Court’s work.

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