Calif. Supreme Court decision: Prop. 8 is upheld

The California Supreme Court has issued its decision on Prop 8. The proposition has been upheld, but existing gay marriages will stand. I’ll update when more details are available. It’s impossible to connect to the court’s website right now.

UPDATE: It appears that the court has determined that Prop 8 is not a ‘revision’ to the California constitution, but simply an amendment. The legal difference is lost on me, but clearly the court is not ruling on the issue of gay marriage at all, but only on the ability to amend the constitution by petition. Here is a small excerpt of the 186 page decision:

Taking into consideration the actual limited effect of Proposition 8 upon the preexisting state constitutional right of privacy and due process and upon the guarantee of equal protection of the laws, and after comparing this initiative measure to the many other constitutional changes that have been reviewed and evaluated in numerous prior decisions of this court, we conclude Proposition 8 constitutes a constitutional amendment rather than a constitutional revision. As a quantitative matter, petitioners concede that Proposition 8 — which adds but a single, simple section to the Constitution — does not constitute a revision. As a qualitative matter, the act of limiting access to the designation of marriage to opposite-sex couples does not have a substantial or, indeed, even a minimal effect on the governmental plan or framework of California that existed prior to the amendment. [snip]

We agree with petitioners that the state constitutional right to equal protection of the laws unquestionably represents a long-standing and fundamental constitutional principle (a constitutional principle that, as we already have explained, has not generally been repealed or eliminated by Proposition 8). There are many other constitutional rights that have been amended in the past through the initiative process, however, that also are embodied in the state Constitution’s Declaration of Rights and reflect equally long-standing and fundamental constitutional principles whose purpose is to protect often unpopular individuals and groups from overzealous or abusive treatment that at times may be condoned by a transient majority. Neither the language of the relevant constitutional provisions, nor our past cases, support the proposition that any of these rights is totally exempt from modification by a constitutional amendment adopted by a majority of the voters through the initiative process.

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  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on May 26, 2009 - 11:39 am

    In California, constitutional revisions can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Proposition 8 reached the ballot as a constitutional amendment after a signature campaign. The standard for deciding what constitutes a revision is whether it represents a drastic or fundamental change. Believe it or not, legal experts differ on whether eliminating the right of some people to marry qualifies as drastic.

  2. #2 by Richard Warnick on May 26, 2009 - 12:49 pm

    Via Think Progress:

    In a dissenting opinion, Justice Carlos Moreno wrote that the decision “weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority.”

    Justice Moreno also said that Prop 8 violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

  3. #3 by James Farmer on May 27, 2009 - 10:17 pm

    The Calif. Supreme Court decision will embolden the masses to repeal the travesty that is Prop 8, and once Prop 8 is set aside by the people (perhaps in 2010 or 12) those who are now saying “the people have spoken” will be silenced (but we all know they will prattle on ….).

  4. #4 by Becky Stauffer on May 28, 2009 - 4:40 am

    I think you’re right, James. People will be mobilized to correct this.

    My daughter sent me this link to Daily Kos that delves a little deeper into the decision (at 186 pages, I was daunted by about page 6, but should have read on):

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