Results tagged “Proposition 8”

June 26, 2013

By Associate Professor Justin Levitt Levitt2.jpg

This information was cross-posted from Election Law Blog.

DOMA has been struck down as unconstitutional. Prop 8 case from California dismissed on standing grounds (initiative proponents have no cognizable injury distinct from the general population). I haven't yet read thoroughly, but SCOTUSblog reports that neither finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

DOMA decision is here; Prop 8 is here.

Both 5-4, very different majorities. DOMA is Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor; Prop 8 is Roberts, Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan.

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January 9, 2013

NeJaime2.jpgBy Associate Professor Douglas NeJaime

This op-ed originally appeared in The Advocate.

The Supreme Court has decided to hear two cases relating to marriage equality. The first, United States v. Windsor, raises the constitutionality of section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition to same-sex couples' marriages. The second, Hollingsworth v. Perry, involves the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples. After the court's announcement, many commentators and some LGBT activists speculated that the court's ultimate decision in the cases would bring the end of marriage-based discrimination against same-sex couples. Some expect the justices to extend the fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples. Others are focusing on equal protection, anticipating a ruling that sexual orientation classifications merit heightened scrutiny. Such a decision would immediately cast doubt on any form of sexual orientation discrimination, including the marriage prohibitions that a vast majority of states maintain.

But this might all be wishful thinking.

Yes, the court might have taken the Windsor case because the Second Circuit Court of Appeals applied heightened scrutiny to sexual orientation classifications, whereas the First Circuit's Gill v. Office of Personnel Management decision applied only rational basis review. But, more likely, the court might have taken Windsor and not Gill because all nine justices could participate in the case. It was widely believed that Justice Kagan would have recused herself from Gill given her role in the Obama administration during deliberations regarding that case.

[Read the complete story here.]

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June 8, 2012

NeJaime2.jpg By Professor Doug NeJaime

This op-ed originally appeared in the June 8, 2012 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

What will the Supreme Court decide first: whether states can deny same-sex couples the right to marry or whether the federal government can refuse to recognize same-sex couples' valid marriages under state law? Now that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to rehear Perry vs. Brown, the challenge to California's Proposition 8, and the 1st Circuit has ruled Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, unconstitutional, that question has taken on an increased sense of urgency. Although Perry may provide more dramatic and compelling litigation, the DOMA cases present the Supreme Court with the best way forward.

First, the DOMA cases introduce fewer political complications, teeing up the relatively limited question of whether the federal government can deny recognition to existing marriages. The plaintiffs have challenged only Section 3 of DOMA, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex spouses. Section 2, which largely restates existing principles regarding interstate recognition, is not at issue. If the court agrees with the 1st Circuit on Section 3, states with marriage equality would have their laws recognized by the federal government. States without marriage equality would be unaffected; such a ruling would neither require them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples nor compel them to recognize marriages from other states. The political backlash, therefore, would probably be relatively limited.

Read the complete article here.

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February 7, 2012

NeJaime2.jpgAssociate Professor Douglas NeJaime has followed the Proposition 8 legal battle closely. His early assessment of the Ninth Circuit's decision is below:

In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment that eliminated the right to marry for same-sex couples, violates the federal Constitution. Writing for the court, Judge Reinhardt decided the case in the most narrow fashion available, basing his holding on the unique situation in California. The state maintains an entirely separate system for same-sex couples (domestic partnership) and provides all the same state-law rights and benefits of marriage through that system. In addition, unlike in other states, same-sex couples enjoyed the right to marry in California and had that right withdrawn by Proposition 8. Based on these unique facts, the court concluded that Proposition 8 fails to meet even the lowest level of scrutiny under the federal Equal Protection Clause. By ruling in a narrow fashion and basing its holding on the reasoning of Romer v. Evans (the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Colorado's Amendment 2, which withdrew and prohibited antidiscrimination protections for lesbians and gay men), the Ninth Circuit decided the case in a way that would allow the Supreme Court to affirm without having to significantly expand on its existing jurisprudence and without having to rule on marriage for same-sex couples on a national scale. In effect, the Ninth Circuit's decision allows the Supreme Court to continue the incremental, case-by-case trajectory of marriage for same-sex couples in the United States.

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January 4, 2011

Doug NeJaimeBy Associate Professor Doug NeJaime

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two crucial orders in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal challenge to California's Proposition 8. But rather than get to the merits of the question -- whether California's denial of the right to marry to same-sex couples violates federal equal protection or due process principles -- the panel dealt with threshold questions of standing. And at least one member of the court, Judge Reinhardt, seems frustrated by the roadblocks standing between the court and the merits.

In a per curiam opinion, the panel asked the California Supreme Court to weigh in on the question of standing. Specifically, the judges asked the state court to determine whether "the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularlized interest in the initiative's validity or the authority to assert the State's interest in the initiative's validity, which would enable them to defend the constitutionality of the initiative upon its adoption or appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative, when the public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so." In other words, now that the California Governor and Attorney General refuse to defend the marriage ban, can the groups behind Proposition 8 step in to defend it? If the Proposition 8 proponents do not have a state-created right to defend their intiative, then the Ninth Circuit would be compelled to dismiss the appeal for lack of standing and leave the substance of marriage equality for another day.

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December 6, 2010

Doug NeJaimeBy Associate Professor Doug NeJaime

Associate Professor Doug NeJaime wrote about the potential implications of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in a post last week. He live-Tweeted today's oral arguments.

While the first hour of oral argument in Perry focused on the question of standing, the second hour moved on to the meat of the case: the substantive merits regarding Prop. 8 and same-sex couples' right to marry. And here all three judges seemed genuinely interested in a narrow framing of the case--as one about whether California has a legitimate interest in taking away the label "marriage" from lesbian and gay Californians while leaving intact a comprehensive domestic partnership regime that provides the rights and benefits of marriage. In other words, can the Ninth Circuit rule that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional without directly impacting marriage restrictions in other states? Indeed, even Judge Smith, the most conservative judge on the panel, pointedly asked Charles Cooper, attorney for the Prop 8 proponents, whether one can find that California lacks a rational basis for the law without also finding that other states lack a rational basis for their marriage bans.

This narrow framing does not appear to be the plaintiffs' strategy of choice. They have consistently argued that lesbians and gay men enjoy a fundamental right to marry under the federal Due Process Clause and that classifications based on sexual orientation should (like race) be subject to strict scrutiny under the federal Equal Protection Clause. Yet various amici have been pushing a more limited framing of the case. The judges appear to have taken these arguments seriously, pressing the lawyers on the complexities of the California-specific reading. Although Ted Olson, arguing for the plaintiffs, maintained his position in favor of a more sweeping ruling, he nonetheless indulged the judges' interest in the more limited reading and set out a compelling argument that Prop. 8 fails a less searching level of scrutiny. And Terry Stewart, representing the City of San Francisco, argued forcefully that the Ninth Circuit could find Prop. 8 invalid under rational basis review because it constitutes nothing more than a classification for its own sake.

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December 2, 2010

Doug NeJaimeBy Associate Professor Doug NeJaime

This is the third installment in the 11-part series, "11 on '11," in which Loyola Law School professors are weighing in on what they expect to be the biggest legal issues in their fields in 2011. (On Monday, Dec. 6, Professor NeJaime will live Tweet the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals oral arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger beginning at 10 a.m. PT. He will provide follow-up analysis on Summary Judgments afterward.)

Everyone now seems to agree: The U.S. Supreme Court will eventually take up the issue of marriage for same-sex couples. But an open question remains: in what context?

Two potentially landmark federal cases are working their way through the courts. The first, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, is a carefully constructed piece of movement advocacy. LGBT rights lawyers have long avoided the issue of marriage in the federal courts, preferring instead to work with sympathetic state courts (and, increasingly, legislatures) and keep the issue away from a generally conservative U.S. Supreme Court. But after a series of state-level victories, lawyers at Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed their Gill complaint, which challenges the unequal treatment of Massachusetts married couples (same-sex vs. different-sex) under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex "spouses," thereby creating two separate systems of federal treatment of couples who are married for Massachusetts state law purposes.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to prohibit marriage for same-sex couples, the newly formed American Foundation for Equality Rights (AFER) filed Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a federal constitutional challenge to the ban. While LGBT rights lawyers refused to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court and discouraged AFER from doing so--preferring instead to work at the state level--famed litigators Ted Olson and David Boies took the case.

Both cases are slowly working their way up the federal appellate chain. The federal District Court of Massachusetts recently ruled tag that DOMA violates the federal equal protection guarantee, as applied to Massachusetts same-sex couples. While the case sits at the First Circuit Court of Appeals, GLAD has filed a similar challenge tag, in the federal District Court of Connecticut, on behalf of married same-sex couples in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Perry plaintiffs also received a favorable district court ruling tag, in which the Northern District of California federal court found Proposition 8 violative of federal due process and equal protection guarantees. The Ninth Circuit will hear oral argument in the case on Monday and will consider questions of standing in addition to the substantive constitutional merits.

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