The California Supreme Court yesterday agreed to analyze whether Proposition 8 proponents have standing to appeal a federal judge's ruling that lifted the ban on same-sex marriages in the Golden State—a legal detour that could delay an appellate decision on marriage equality by seven months.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced legislation that could make the standing issue moot by forcing the state attorney general to defend all voter-approved laws from legal challenges or authorize their sponsors to step in.
After Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop. 8 in August, sponsors of the voter-approved initiative appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But legal experts, most notably UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, immediately suggested Prop. 8 sponsors have no standing to appeal because the original case Walker ruled on was filed by two same-sex couples against California's governor and attorney general.
The Prop. 8 sponsors stepped in because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-AG Jerry Brown declined to argue on behalf of the measure that was passed in 2008.
Ironically, Harman tried to become attorney general himself, but he lost the GOP nomination to Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who lost the general election by a hair to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
With legal eagles and Walker himself indicating they did not believe Prop. 8 backers have standing, the appellate court courageously . . . punted to the California Supreme Court.
“We cannot consider this important constitutional question unless the appellants before us have standing to raise it,” the three-judge appeal panel whined in January.
That led to Wednesday's announcement from the Supremes at their San Francisco headquarters. The order stated it will give “expedited consideration” to the matter and could hear arguments as early as September. Its decision would be due within 90 days of that hearing.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Courage Campaign, founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said: “It is unfortunate that while many California families are able to marry at a time and place of their choosing, equally loving LGBT families must endure months and years of legal uncertainty. They have waited long enough.”
Jacobs then asked for an extra-expedited expedited ruling.
“. . . [W]e are asking the California Supreme Court to move expeditiously to resolve the standing question once and for all. And we are confident that no matter what their decision, Judge Walker's ruling will ultimately be upheld and the days of second class citizenship for thousands of California families will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”
Not if Tom Harman has anything to do with it.
State Senator Tom Harman
State Capitol, Room 5094
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4035
Fax: (916) 445-9263
State Senator Tom Harman
950 South Coast Drive, Ste. 240
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: (714) 957-4555
Fax: (714) 957-4560