Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Federal Appeals Court Sends Prop 8 Case On Detour To State Supreme Court: News: SFAppeal

Federal Appeals Court Sends Prop 8 Case On Detour To State Supreme Court: News: SFAppeal: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

A federal appeals court in San Francisco today sent a key question in a challenge to Proposition 8 to the California Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals asked the state high court to decide whether the sponsors of the voter-approved state ban on same-sex marriage have the legal right to appeal a decision that struck down the measure.

The issue arose because former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is now governor, declined to defend the voter initiative in the trial of a civil rights lawsuit.

The state officials were the original defendants in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples.

The appeals court panel said the state Supreme Court must decide whether the sponsors have the right to appeal under state law.

If the state court rules that there is no such right, then the appeal must be dismissed, the court said. That would leave in place an August ruling in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco struck down the measure.

The federal panel wrote, "This court is obligated to ensure that it has jurisdiction over this appeal before proceeding to the important constitutional questions it presents, and we must dismiss the appeal if we lack jurisdiction."

If the California Supreme Court concludes that the sponsors do have a right to appeal, the case would go back to the 9th Circuit, which would then decide whether the initiative violates the U.S. Constitution.

But the detour to the state high court would delay a final ruling in the case for at least several months.

Proposition 8, enacted by voters in 2008, provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.

Walker's ruling striking down the initiative has been put on hold during the appeal process.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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