Wednesday, August 4, 2010

U.S. District Court Strikes Down California's Proposition 8

Via Doug Mataconis:

Added, at Los Angeles Times, "Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California." And at Legal Insurrection, "Fed Judge Finds Calif. Prop. 8 Unconstitutional":
Today, Chief Judge Vaugh Walker of the Northern District of California issued his ruling in the case holding that Prop. 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

Here is the Judge's conclusion:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that oppositesex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Throughout the opinion, the Judge goes into great detail regarding trial testimony and justifications for Prop. 8. The Judge then holds, in essence, that the justifications are irrational and have no legitimate societal basis.

The Judge even designated a section of the opinion "Credibility Determinations." Many commentators think the Judge was trying to insulate the opinion from appeal since appeals courts do not normally overturn credibility determinations, since only the trial judge observed the witness.

In this case, the Judge seems to be trying too hard to insulate the opinion, and I doubt that on such a momentus finding of a new constitutional right for same sex marriage that an appeals court, much less the U.S. Supreme Court, will care much about the credibility of witnesses as a basis for a legal ruling.

Everyone expects this case to end up on the U.S. Supreme Court, which should test what Elena Kagan meant when she said, under oath, that there is no constitutional right to gay marriage.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger - Proposition 8 Unconstitutional


Opus #6 said...

So the DOMA judge says that the Feds can't define marriage. And this gay judge says that a state full of people can't define marriage or pass a constitutional amendment. Our civil society deteriorates....