Background

California voters approved Proposition 8, a state ballot initiative, at the November 4, 2008, statewide election. Proposition 8 added a new section to the state Constitution which provides that "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The day after the election, three lawsuits challenging Prop. 8 were filed directly in the California Supreme Court.

On November 19, 2008, the Supreme Court agreed to hear those cases. The court directed the parties to brief and argue the following issues: (1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution? (2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution? (3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

In the order accepting the cases for review, the Supreme Court also denied a request to stay the operation of Proposition 8 pending the court's resolution of the cases, granted the motion of the official proponents of Proposition 8 to intervene in the action, and established an expedited briefing schedule. Briefing in the Supreme Court was completed on January 21, 2009. All briefs are available online on the Prop 8 page.

On February 3, the Supreme Court announced that oral argument will be held in the Prop. 8 cases on Thursday, March 5, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (see news release). The court will issue a written opinion in the cases within 90 days of oral argument.

For previous marriage cases, please visit the main High Profile Case section.

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