California State Supreme Court meets on gay marriage
Posted on March 5, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
The California Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative, should be upheld and, if so, whether the marriages of an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples should remain valid.
During a three-hour televised hearing this morning, the San Francisco-based high court will examine whether the November ballot measure was an impermissible constitutional revision or a more limited constitutional amendment.
The court will need to decide the fate of existing same-sex marriages only if it is prepared to uphold Proposition 8, which many legal analysts believe is likely.
The justices’ questions to lawyers often reveal how the court is leaning. Legal analysts will be carefully watching Chief Justice Ronald M. George, whose vote often determines whether the conservative or more liberal wing of the court prevails.
The state high court ruled 4 to 3 on May 15 that same-sex couples should be entitled to marry. George wrote the ruling, which was signed by Justices Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos R. Moreno.
Justices Marvin R. Baxter, Ming W. Chin and Carol A. Corrigan voted against overturning the state’s previous ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that the matter should be left to voters.
After Proposition 8 passed, only Moreno voted to put the measure on hold pending a decision on the legal challenges. Kennard, who usually votes in favor of gay rights, voted against accepting the revision challenge to the proposition but said she would hear arguments over the validity of existing same-sex marriages.
Some legal analysts believe the vote signaled that Kennard did not believe the revision argument would prevail. Without her vote, the court would be unlikely to muster a majority for overturning the measure.
In addition to arguing that Proposition 8 was an illegal constitutional revision, gay rights lawyers contend that it usurped the authority of the courts.
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