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Posts Tagged ‘Ninth Circuit’

Live-Blogging Monday’s Oral Argument in Prop 8 Appeal

December 4th, 2010 No comments

On Monday (Dec. 6), the Ninth Circuit (federal appellate court) will be hearing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. I will be live-blogging the argument, beginning at 1 pm EST, over at 365gay.com. (I will link back to it from here when it’s done, but if you want the blow-by-blow, go there — not here.)

The first hour will address the standing issue; the second, the substance of the constitutional arguments. While standing arguments are usually a MEGO1, in this case it’s worth listening closely — there’s more than a minimal chance that the court will toss the Prop 8 defenders out on the ground that intervening parties don’t have standing to appeal.

  1. “My eyes glaze over.”

Prop 8 Appellate Arguments to be Televised (Probably)

November 17th, 2010 No comments

All over the gayosphere this evening was the news that oral argument on Prop 8, set for December 6, is to be televised. The Ninth Circuit issued an order allowing the full two hours of argument to be broadcast.

You’ll probably recall that the proceedings in the court below had been approved for telecast, too — until SCOTUS stepped in with some trumped-up reasons for reversing that determination (by an ominous 5-4 decision). Technically, at least, the Court’s ruling was based on the lower court’s failure to follow the rules for approving broadcasting, so assuming that these rules have now been followed (sheesh, let’s hope so!), I don’t expect the Supremes to weigh in again — at least not for now.

The two hours are to be divided equally between procedure and substance, and that’s telling all by itself. The first hour will focus on the quite serious standing issue; since the State of California has declined to appeal its loss, there’s strong Supreme Court language suggesting (though by no means stating unequivocally) that the intervenors supporting Prop 8 don’t have standing to lodge the appeal. The case might or might be complicated by the alleged interest of county officials, though. Can they defend the law even if the state won’t? It’s quite possible, for the reasons set forth in this clear, and excellent post. It’s also possible that the whole case could be thrown out on this basis: If the intervenors don’t have standing to appeal, why then did they have standing to sue? (The post also discusses this problem expertly). If the court finds no standing for this reason, then the suit would have to be refiled — but would have no defenders (since the newly elected Governor — who’s also the former AG — believe that Prop 8 should die.

OK, standing isn’t the best topic with which to debut Prop 8 Court TV, but it will get more interesting for non-lawyers from there. They will rouse themselves from a deep, coma-like sleep once the argument moves to the serious constitutional issues. I hope enough people are watching for word to spread, far and wide: The Prop 8 proponents have little to commend their position. As David Boies has memorably stated, once the issue moved out of the public square where anything can and will be said — support or logic be damned — and into the courtroom where actual arguments are needed to sustain the ban against same-sex marriages, the emperor stood revealed.

Don’t expect anything to happen soon, though. Whatever the court decides, an appeal to the court en banc (which usually means all judges on the appellate court, but is constituted by fewer judges in the Ninth Circuit given the court’s sheer size) is inevitable. Then, on to the Supreme Court, in all likelihood — whether on standing issues or substance, it’s too early to say.

But the public will get a rich sense of the injustice of the law’s exclusion of same-sex couples from the dignity and legal recognition of marriage. For that, we can thank the court’s sensible decision to allow this broadcast.

Oh, Perry! (Hold On)

January 10th, 2010 No comments

In case you were wondering whether the Prop 8 defenders believe their arguments are sound, wonder no more: They have gone so far as to seek, from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (who decides such applications for the Ninth Circuit, of which California is a part), an emergency stay of the California court’s order to allow a delayed broadcast of the trial proceedings. The trial is to start tomorrow, with the youtube broadcast to be offered on time delay (maddeningly, we don’t know when the video will be available; later the same day, or early the following day).

Does this action sound to you like that of a group confident in the strength of its arguments? Me, neither. The stay application cites the prospect of witness intimidation and harassment if this show trial is broadcast. Translation: We’re much better off if people can’t see that we have no good arguments against allowing gay couples the same right to marry that heterosexual couples take for granted.

One interesting tea leaf to read here: Justice Kennedy is among the Court’s most consistent defenders of the First Amendment, reading its guarantees quite broadly. Thus, if he does grant the stay, the prospects for ultimate success at the Supreme Court dim. His vote is likely decisive. And Kennedy probably can’t dodge the issue by asking the full Court to weigh in, because the other eight justices would likely split 4-4, throwing it right back to him.1┬áThere’s something fitting about Kennedy’s role here: He can decide this, all by himself. We might as well say that about marriage equality, generally.

  1. I know, this is much too simple, because this isn’t the same as deciding the marriage issue on the merits. And the First Amendment issue could split the Court in a different way. Yes, but if Bush v. Gore taught us anything, it’s that theory and doctrine will be subordinated to political result when the chips are down. So I don’t expect the conservative wing of the Court to do anything that would diminish, even hypothetically, the case against marriage equality which they may soon have to hear.