California Supreme Court Dismisses Marriage Amendment Case

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Old and new state office buildings, 350 McAllister St, SF

California Supreme Court

SACRAMENTO – The California Supreme Court has denied a request to uphold the state marriage amendment, known as Prop 8. One-man, one-woman marriage supporters had hoped the court would consider halting same-sex unions while it ruled on critical elements of the case. The justices declined without comment.

Protect Marriage, the group that sponsored Prop 8, has been involved in the legal process.  Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the group, said the latest ruling leaves “grave doubts about the future of the initiative process.”

“Now voters will be less confident than ever that their votes will mean something,” he said.  “When politicians disregard the law, and the courts refuse to get involved, what are we left with?”

More than 7 million Californians voted in favor of the amendment in 2008. Since then, Prop 8 has spent time in courts throughout the state and was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. The high court ruling in June left in place a decision by the district court against the amendment.

Gov. Jerry Brown and State Attorney General Kamala Harris wasted no time in ordering county clerks to issue marriage licenses.

The marriage supporters took two arguments to the high court: They argued that the district court ruling only applies to the couples who brought the challenge, not the entire state. They also pointed to the state Constitution that says the state cannot consider the amendment stuck down until there is an appeals court level decision. The U.S. Supreme Court action made the appellate court decision from the 9th Circuit as if it never happened.

Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said he was disappointed the high court refused to enforce the law.

“Though the current California officials are unwilling to enforce the state Constitution,” he said, “we remain hopeful that one day Californians will elect officials who will. It is unfortunate that the California Supreme Court chose not to decide the important, still-unresolved questions about the enforcement of Proposition 8, the law of the land in California.”

The latest decision puts future appeals in doubt.

“It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on,” said Pugno, “but either way, it is a disgraceful day for California.”