The state Supreme Court plunged back into the same-sex marriage wars today, agreeing to decide the legality of a ballot measure that repealed the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed in California.
At the urging of both sponsors and opponents of Proposition 8, the justices voted 6-1 to grant review of lawsuits challenging the Nov. 4 initiative, with Justice Joyce Kennard dissenting.
However, the court refused, 6-1, to let same-sex marriages resume while it considers Prop. 8’s constitutionality. Justice Carlos Moreno cast the dissenting vote.
Approved by 52 percent of voters, Prop. 8 restored the definition of marriage – a union of a man and a woman – that the court had overturned May 15. Both Kennard and Moreno were in the majority of that 4-3 ruling.
The court agreed today to review two related arguments by opponents of Prop. 8 – that the measure exceeds the legal scope of a ballot initiative by allowing a majority to restrict a minority group’s rights, and that it violates the constitutional separation of powers by limiting judicial authority.
The justices also asked for arguments on whether Prop. 8, if constitutional, would nullify 18,000 same-sex weddings performed between when the court’s marriage ruling took effect in mid-June and Nov. 4. Attorney General Jerry Brown, who will defend Prop. 8 as the state’s chief lawyer, contends those marriages are legal, but sponsors of the initiative disagree.
The justices asked for written arguments to be submitted by Jan. 21. The court could hold a hearing as early as March, with a ruling due 90 days later.
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