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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Proposition 8 Hearing Underway in Supreme Court (Update)

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 8:02 AM

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Listen to the full audio here

Update 9:15 a.m.: The Center for Lesbian Rights has released a statement in response to this morning's Supreme Court hearing. "Proposition 8 literally carved out same-sex couples from the full protection of the California Constitution and told them that they alone were no longer entitled to equality before the law," says executive director Kate Kendell. "We believe the Supreme Court will agree that Proposition 8 is a grievous offense to our Constitution's promise of equality."

Update 8:49 a.m.: Oral arguments have now ended for Prop 8. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ted Olson argued that Prop. 8 denies same-sex couples a fundamental right. Chief Justice Roberts countered that he wasn't convinced that a state law against same-sex marriage is an exclusion of gay and lesbian couples. "The institution of marriage developed in ways that just didn't include them," he said.

Justice Antonin Scalia also reportedly questioned Olson about what specific year it became unconstitutional for same-sex couples to wed. Mr. Olson responded, "When did it become unconstitutional to ban interracial marriage?"

Update 8:30 a.m.: The Supreme Court blog is reporting that oral arguments are finished and that the Supreme Court will not make a ruling on same-sex marriage. If this is the case, the lower court's ruling stands and Prop. 8 is invalidated.

Update 8:24 a.m.: The Supreme Court blog is reporting that Justice Kennedy, the expected swing vote, is highly uncomfortable with striking down Prop. 8 and would prefer to dismiss it, leaving the lower court's ruling intact. This would mean same-sex marriage for California, but not the nation.

Update 8:08 a.m.: As we mentioned yesterday, the Supreme Court is questioning whether or not Prop 8 supporters have the right to appeal the case at all. Because Prop 8 is a state law, it would typically be defended by the state; however, Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris have refused to do so. In absence of state representation, Prop 8 supporters have taken up the case themselves -- but the Supreme Court may not allow them to represent themselves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Charles Cooper, the lawyer representing Prop 8 proponents, barely made it through his opening remarks before Chief Justice John Roberts interrupted and asked that he address whether or not his clients should be allowed to defend Prop 8 at all.

Cooper was given extra time to answer questions from the justices and complete his remarks. Cooper's argument addressed states' rights to make the decision about same-sex marriage for themselves -- a tactic aimed at the Supreme Court's likely swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy has a history of supporting gay rights, but has been a champion of states' rights as well.

Update 7:50 a.m.: The Supreme Court blog is reporting that Prop 8 is unlikely to be upheld.

Original Story 7:45 a.m.: After a massive rally in San Francisco got everyone pumped about gays getting married, SFers are eagerly awaiting the today's Supreme Court hearing that will decide the fate of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The hearing began this morning at 7:00 a.m. PST (it's 10:00 a.m. over there in D.C.). After nearly 10 years of struggle toward marriage equality in California and five years under Prop. 8, the oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court justices will only last one hour. Here's the breakdown:

Charles Cooper, the lawyer representing Hollingsworth (a.k.a. those in favor of upholding Prop. 8) gets the first 30 minutes to speak.

The second half of the argument will be split between Ted Olson, the legal representative of Ms. Perry -- a Berkeley resident who, along with her wife, is seeking the right to wed -- and Donald Verrilli, the solicitor general for the Obama Administration. Olson will have 20 minutes to speak; Verrilli will get 10.

No reporting is allowed from inside the Supreme Court chambers, but full audio recordings and transcripts will be released after the hearing ends in approximately one hour. The Supreme Court justices will not announce its decision today, rather a verdict will likely come in June.


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Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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