Here’s the Ninth Circuit’s certification order, available on the court’s Perry v. Schwarzenegger portal page, and here’s a quick write-up, from Bay City News. Essentially the Ninth Circuit wants the California Supreme Court to decide whether the official proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, have standing to defend the initiative’s constitutionality in court, since the public officials who would normally defend it have declined to do so.
In his concurrence to the certification order and per curiam opinion, liberal lion Stephen Reinhardt had catty comments about the litigation skills and strategy of David Boies, Ted Olson, and their colleagues at Boies Schiller and Gibson Dunn….
From Judge Reinhardt’s opinion:
“[I]t is clear that all of this would have been unnecessary and Plaintiffs could have obtained a statewide injunction had they filed an action against a broader set of defendants, a simple matter of pleading. Why preeminent counsel and the major law firms of which they are a part failed to do that is a matter on which I will not speculate.”
“[I]n the end, there may well be standing to maintain this appeal, and the important constitutional question before us may, after all, be decided by an appellate court – ours, the Supreme Court, or both – and may apply to California as a whole, instead of by being finally decided by a trial court, or by default, in only two counties or in none. As a result, the technical barriers and the inexplicable manner in which the parties have conducted this litigation may in the end not preclude an orderly review by the federal courts of the critical constitutional question that is of interest to all Americans, and particularly to the millions of Californians who voted for Proposition 8 and the tens of thousands of same-sex couples who wish to marry in that state. In the meantime, while we await further word from the Supreme Court of California, I hope that the American public will have a better understanding of where we stand today in this case, if not why.”
Ouch — those definitely qualify as benchslaps. If you’ve ever been reprimanded by a judge, it’s kind of nice to know that legendary litigators like Messrs. Boies and Olson get snarked on too.
UPDATE: Here’s the certified question, as highlighted by the WSJ Law Blog:
Whether under Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, or otherwise under California law, the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularized interest in the initiative’s validity or the authority to assert the State’s interest in the initiative’s validity, which would enable them to defend the constitutionality of the initiative upon its adoption or appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative, when the public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so.
Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Order Certifying a Question to the Supreme Court of California
Perry v. Schwarzenegger / “Proposition 8″ litigation homepage
[U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]
Federal Appeals Court Sends Prop 8 Case On Detour To State Supreme Court [SFAppeal / Bay City News]