The Proposition 8 lawsuit is an interesting case. The case reached the Supreme Court by ways of proponents of the proposition who were unsatisfied with the lower courts decision.
To clarify how this case made its way up the ranks, here’s a quick timeline of Prop 8.
November, 2008 – Proposition 8 passes on a statewide ballot measure in California. It immediately bars gays and lesbians from marrying in the state.
Immediately after – Hollingsworth v. Perry case filed. Perry was one of the lesbian couples refused a marriage certificate in Alameda County. They served as the plaintiffs in the case.
The state of California, under the auspices of Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided the state would not defend the proposition. This essentially created a peculiar situation, the government abandoned its own law based on the predisposition that it itself is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In this void, private citizens argued, and were accepted by the court, to serve as defendant of the case. ProtectMarriage.com, lead by Dennis Hollingsworth, became the defendants in the case.
… after months of battling…
August 4, 2010 – U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8, stating it is “…unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause because no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.”
Now is when things get interesting. In all this drama, Imperial County in California was arguing to act as a defendant (as it is a government body) for the case. They were denied.
The defendants of the case appealed Judge Walker’s decision and the case move up to federal courts (from the district court).
February 7, 2012 – The Ninth Circuit (aka, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) issued a divided three judge ruling that upheld the decision of the district court. It did so on narrower grounds than the District Court did.
June 5, 2012 – the Ninth Circuit denied a request for a rehearing en banc. En banc is a legal term that means a case that is heard before all judges of the court. In this case, it means all judges that sit on the Ninth Circuit, not just the panel of three judges that hear a case.
July 31, 2012 – Proponents of Proposition 8 appealed the case (now in the current form of Hollingsworth v. Perry) to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What’s important to note here is that anti-prop 8 supporters asked the Supreme Court to not hear the case. Why? Because the Supreme Court would have the power to overturn the ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court and declare the proposition legal.
December 7, 2012 – SCOTUS orders the parties involved to be briefed over additional question of whether supporters of Prop. 8 have standing, that is, a legal right to be involved in the case, under Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
March 13, 2013 – The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case.
June 26, 2013 – The Supreme Court issues a decision, 5-4, that it does not have the right to hear the case based on the technicality that the state has not adequately defended the case. It essentially rules in favor of the lower courts.