9th Circuit, Anthony Kennedy, California, David Boies, Gay, Gay Marriage, Stephen Reinhardt, Ted Olson

Breaking: Ninth Circuit Issues Landmark Ruling on Gay Marriage

Here’s a quick timeline of events in the Proposition 8 / gay marriage / marriage equality litigation. It’s essentially a distillation of Chris Geidner’s great overview of the case over at Poliglot / Metro Weekly, but with some glosses of mine here and there.

May 2008: The California Supreme Court rules, 4-3, that the California constitution prohibits the state from discriminating against same-sex couples with respect to state marriage laws.

June 2008: Same-sex couples begin marrying in California.

November 2008: California passes Proposition 8, which amends the California constitution to provide as follows: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Marriages of same-sex couples come to a halt.

May 2009: The California Supreme Court upholds the validity of Prop 8. That same month, the legal (and bipartisan) “dream team” of David Boies and Ted Olson files a federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8 in district court (Northern District of California). The case is filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER).

January 2010: A three-week trial takes place before Judge Vaughn Walker (who happens to be gay; this is relevant for purposes of the litigation because backers of Prop 8 argue that Judge Walker — or former judge Walker, since he has steppe down from the bench — should have recused himself).

June 2010: Closing arguments take place in the Perry case before Judge Walker.

August 2010: Judge Walker issues an opinion striking down Prop 8, holding that Prop 8 is “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses.” The Prop 8 proponents appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

December 2010: A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit — composed of Judge Stephen Reinhardt (uber-liberal Carter appointee), Judge Michael Daly Hawkins (liberal Clinton I appointee), and Judge N. Randy Smith (conservative Bush II appointee) — hears oral argument in the Perry case.

January 2011: The Ninth Circuit panel sends a certified question to the California Supreme Court (i.e., asks the California Supremes to rule on a relevant issue of state law). Specifically, the Ninth Circuit judges ask the California court to rule on whether the Prop 8 proponents have legal standing to pursue an appeal despite the unwillingness of the official defendants (the governor and the attorney general) to defend Prop 8. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit asks (1) whether “the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularized interest in the initiative’s validity” or (2) whether they have “the authority to assert the State’s interest in the initiative’s validity.”

November 2011: The California Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, rules that the Prop 8 proponents have standing to defend the law on appeal.

December 2011: The Ninth Circuit hears argument on (1) whether videotapes of the trial proceedings should be publicly released and (2) whether Judge Vaughn Walker “should be disqualified from presiding over the case because he was involved in a same-sex relationship at the time.”

February 2, 2012: The Ninth Circuit rules against public release of the Prop 8 trial videotapes, citing “the trial judge’s commitment to the parties that the recording would not be publicly broadcast.”

February 7, 2012: The Ninth Circuit issues its opinion on the merits in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The opinion affirms the district court and strikes down Prop 8.

Perry v. Brown case litigation website [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]
BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Proposition 8 [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Prop 8 Ruling on Tuesday — A Guide to Understanding What’s Happening
[Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Proposition 8
Prior ATL coverage of gay marriage

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