Supporters of Proposition 8, the California initiative banning marriage equality, which was declared unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, plan to take their fight directly to the Supreme Court, if their reaction to yesterday’s ruling is accurate.
In a statement by Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Prop 8 (and failed Republican state Assembly candidate), he says that the Ninth District will not have the last word on the initiative.
It’s no surprise that the 9th Circuit’s decision is completely out of step with every other federal appellate and Supreme Court decision in American history on the subject of marriage. Ever since the beginning of this case, we’ve known that the battle to preserve traditional marriage will ultimately be won or lost not here, but rather in the U.S. Supreme Court.
We will immediately appeal this misguided decision that disregards the will of more than 7 million Californians who voted to restore marriage as the unique union of only a man and woman. We are confident that the rights of California voters will finally win out.
Prop 8 supporters had two options: to call for an en banc ruling of an 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, or to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. While there is no explicit statement here that ProtectMarriage.com will opt for the latter, it appears that, with the trashing of the Ninth Circuit and the vow that ultimately the Supreme Court will decide, that they will forego the en banc panel.
This accelerates the time frame for an ultimate ruling on the issue. If ProtectMarriage.com does appeal to the Supreme Court, they would likely get a hearing at the beginning of the next session. So we could expect a ruling sometime in 2013, and no later than June of that year. I suppose they could fast-track it and fit in a ruling this year, but I don’t think that is likely.
In the statement, Pugno took swipes at the “Hollywood elite” for sponsoring the lawsuit, as well as Judge Vaughn Walker for failing “to disclose his own long-term homosexual relationship while presiding over a case seeking the legalization of same-sex marriage.” The Ninth Circuit found no merit in that claim by the Prop 8 proponents.
“Our path to the U.S. Supreme Court is now very clear,” Pugno concludes. That’s where this lawsuit was always headed, anyway, so we might as well get on with it. Importantly, however, the ruling in the Ninth Circuit was so narrowly crafted that even a Supreme Court opinion will not settle the issue of marriage equality for the whole country. Concurrent lawsuits against the constitutionality of DOMA will probably go further to settle that question.