Difference between revisions of "Perry v. Schwarzenegger"

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[[Category:Ballot measure lawsuits, 2010]]
[[Category:Ballot measure lawsuits, 2010]]
[[Category:Ballot measure lawsuits, California]]

Revision as of 13:22, 2 February 2011

Kirstin M. Perry v Arnold Schwarzenegger is a federal case challenging the constitutional validity of California Proposition 8. Proposition 8 is an amendment to Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution that outlaws same-sex marriages performed after November 4, 2008.

The plaintiffs in Perry seek to have the federal courts strike down Proposition 8 as contrary to the United States Constitution.

On Wednesday, August 4, 2010, federal judge Vaughn Walker ruled in the case that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and barred its enforcement.[1]

The case was filed on May 22, 2009 with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The non-jury trial began on January 11, 2010.[2]

Appeal to the Ninth Circuit

The August 2010 federal district court ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution was appealed. A 3-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard from attorneys on both sides on December 7, 2010.[3]

Imperial County removed

On January 4, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit denied the right of Imperial County to defend Proposition 8 in federal court.[4]

Attorneys for the pro-gay marriage side had argued that to have standing to participate in such a lawsuit, it would have to be shown that the county would have to shoulder responsibility for carrying out the policy or establish that it would receive concrete, personal injury. The 3-judge panel said that these conditions were not met by Imperial County.[4]

Request to California Supreme Court

Also on January 4, 2011, the Ninth Circuit's 3-judge panel issued "an order certifying a question" to the California Supreme Court, requesting the state's high court to weigh in on the question of whether it is appropriate for ProtectMarriage.com, the organization that led the charge to enact Proposition 8, to participate in this federal lawsuit. The federal courts have not always allowed ballot measure proponents to join lawsuits seeking to invalidate the ballot measures they advocated for. The California Supreme Court, however, has set a precedent of allowing ballot measure proponents to defend measures in court.[4]

Lawsuit sponsors

The lawsuit is sponsored by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, led by Chad Griffin, and financed in part by Rob Reiner.[5]

The lawsuit was filed by celebrated attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.[6]


The plaintiffs in the case say that they plan to establish that Proposition 8 is "irrational, indefensible and unconstitutional."[2]

Initial opposition

When the federal lawsuit was announced, several major groups opposed to Prop 8 denounced it, including:

In July, these same groups petitioned the court to be allowed to intervene on behalf of the plaintiffs.[7]

Griffin of AFER asked that these groups not be allowed to intervene in the case. He wrote a letter to the groups in early July 2009 saying, "You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. In light of this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening. Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene.”[7]

Attorneys Olson and Boies also asked the court not to allow these groups to intervene, saying that their intervention "poses a substantial risk of interference and delay...Having declined to bring their own federal challenge to Proposition 8, Our Family Coalition and their counsel [the gay rights groups] should not be allowed to usurp plaintiffs' lawsuit now that it is under way and moving forward on an expedited basis."[7]

Disclosure of campaign materials

A key early issue in the case was a request by plaintiffs that the court compel the "Yes on 8" campaign to release its internal campaign strategy documents. The reason for this request, according to one account, is that the plaintiffs believed that if they found evidence in these documents that the "Yes on 8" strategists were attempting "to sow fear and discrimination against gays and lesbians", this information would be relevant in helping a judge decide what the motivations were of those who voted in favor of Proposition 8.[8]

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ordered that the documents be disclosed. In early December 2009, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals suspended Walker's order.[9] In its decision, the 3-judge panel wrote, "The freedom to associate with others for the common advancement of political beliefs and ideas lies at the heart of the 1st Amendment."[10][11]

On December 16, one of the 27 active judges on the Ninth Circuit called for a vote to rehear the issue with a full 11-member panel of judges. Attorneys on both sides of the dispute were requested to file briefs on the matter by December 24, 2009[8] On December 30, the court announced that it was re-affirming its original ruling not to order disclosure.[12]

Televised coverage

On Wednesday, January 6, federal judge Vaughn Walker ruled that cameras would be allowed in his courtroom when he began hearings on the federal lawsuit on January 11.

Video footage from the trial will be uploaded to YouTube daily.[13]

Supporters of Proposition 8 argued that televising the trial is unwise and illegal, leaving open the possibility that they will appeal Judge Walker's decision to televise the proceedings.[14]

The Courage Campaign was a leading advocate of televising the proceedings.[15]

See also

External links