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Family Law: California Divorce Blawg
State Supreme Court to hear arguments against Prop. 8
By John E. Harding, JD, CFLS
The California Supreme Court announced this week it will hear arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage, in San Francisco on March 5.
The high court's written ruling on whether the voter initiative should be struck down will be due 90 days later.
The measure, enacted by voters on Nov. 4, amended the state Constitution to provide that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
It overturned a decision in which the court said by a 4-3 vote in May that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. The panel is now considering three lawsuits filed by same-sex couples and a coalition of cities and counties to challenge the ban.
The lawsuits claim the measure is so sweeping it is a constitutional revision, which would require approval of two-thirds of the Legislature as well as a majority of voters. The court has said it will rule on both whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, whether it retroactively invalidates the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California before Nov. 4.
The justices in today's order allocated an unusual three hours for the arguments in their State Building courtroom beginning at 9 a.m. on March 5. Cases are normally allotted only half an hour per side.
Lawyers for each set of plaintiffs will each get 30 minutes. The plaintiff groups are six same-sex couples and a civil rights organization, Equality California; a seventh couple that filed a separate lawsuit; and 15 cities and counties led by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles and Santa Clara County.
The proponents of Proposition 8, represented by Pepperdine Law School Dean Kenneth Starr and Sacramento attorney Andrew Pugno, will have an hour to argue to the court. Starr and Pugno had asked for extra time because their clients are
the only party in the case fully defending Proposition 8.
In a surprise move, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, whose job is to defend the state's constitution and laws, in December submitted arguments both for and against the measure and concluded that the court should strike it down.
Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.
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