Ninth Circuit Court Defers Ruling on Proposition 8 Until Standing Issue Resolved

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Photo by Isabel Moore

On Jan. 4, after only a month of debate, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals published their ruling on the case determining the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

In their official ruling, Judges Reinhardt, Hawkins, and N.R. Smith stated, “we cannot consider this important constitutional question unless the appellants before us have standing to raise it.”

The issue of standing in this case is whether or not the proponents of Prop 8, ProtectMarriage.com, have a particular interest in or ability to assert the State’s interest in protecting the constitutionality of Prop 8.

Standing has come into question because neither former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Governor Jerry Brown, then attorney general, presented any sort of appeal to the original ruling of Judge Walker, declaring the proposition unconstitutional.

Dan Murphy, Urban School constitutional law teacher, says that this standing issue brings up “a legitimate question about the obligation of state officials to uphold laws when they are challenged.”

In the publication of the ruling, the Ninth Circuit stated, “we respectfully ask the Supreme Court of California to exercise its discretion to accept and decide” whether or not the proponents of Prop 8 have standing. Murphy noted that “the real question (now) is when the California Supreme court will take (the question).” Looking forward, it will most likely take a few months for the California Supreme Court to decide, which means an even longer wait for marriage equality.