The battle over Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is set to resume September 6 when the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether proponents of the ban can legally defend the initiative they sponsored.
The hearing, set to take place in San Franscisco, is pivotal to ProtectMarriage.com, the conservative group responsible for getting Prop. 8 onto the 2008 ballot.
At issue in the case to be heard by the California Supreme Court is whether proponents of ballot measures, like Prop. 8, have the legal authority to defend such measures in court when the governor and attorney general refuse to do so.
In August of 2010, then Chief U.S. District Judge Walker struck down Prop. 8, declaring it "unconstitutional."
Both former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown, attorney general at the time, refused to challenge the Walker’s ruling, so supporters of Prop 8 are hoping to take matters into their own hands.
Members of ProtectMarriage.com cannot continue with their appeal of the 2010 ruling overturning the ban until the state supreme court makes its decision.
If the state supreme court decides that those who initiate ballot measures can defend those measures in court, then ProtectMarriage.com’s case can go forward in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The federal appeals court had said it needs further clarification on state law before it can review the constitutionality of the appeal, and is looking to justices of California's High Court to provide that clarification with their ruling.
Until the decision comes, the federal appeals court has postponed making any decision on the marriage ban’s constitutionality.
Months after Walker overturned Prop. 8, the district judge retired and said he was gay, bringing an end to ongoing speculation over his sexuality.
When Walker also revealed that he was in a long-term homosexual relationship, supporters of traditional marriage questioned whether the federal judge’s decision might have been tainted, as he stood to personally benefit from striking down Prop 8.
The ProtectMarriage.com legal team had asked a judge in April to vacate Walker’s ruling, arguing that Walker violated federal law by failing to recuse himself from the case.
Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware rejected the group’s argument, saying that all Californians had equal interest in the case.
ProtectMarriage.com’s legal team has vowed to continue their “tireless efforts to defend the will of the people of California to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman."