The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to consider complaints by opponents of Proposition 8 that it improperly revised the constitution to ban gay marriage. The court declined to stay its enforcement in the meantime.
Court spokeswoman Lynn Holton said the court asked the parties involved to write briefs arguing three 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?
Holton said the court established an expedited briefing schedule. She said oral argument could be held as early as March 2009.
While most proponents of the initiative had welcomed a Supreme Court review, one advocate of traditional marriage denounced the court’s decision to consider Proposition 8’s constitutionality.
“It’s unfortunate that the judges are giving time to the mushy, subjective arguments of homosexual activists who reject the clear reading of the constitution and the clear reading of Proposition 8,” Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, said in a statement. “If the court disobeys the constitution by voiding Prop. 8, it will ignite a voter revolt. It will also threaten the validity of all future constitutional amendments.”
Thomasson said the court is “playing with fire” by threatening to reverse a vote of the people.
“The California Constitution clearly says that the voters have the right to alter the highest law of the land,” he said. “It’s the beauty of the American system of government. The four Supreme Court justices who unconstitutionally invented homosexual ‘marriages’ — Ron George, Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Werdegar and Carlos Moreno — seem to be ignoring the fact that the people get the last word, not the judges.”
The campaign committee that pushed the measure said it is “profoundly gratified” that court granted its requests and refused to allow outside groups like Thomasson’s to participate directly in the cases.
“This is a great day for the rule of law and the voters of California,” said ProtectMarriage.com General Counsel Andy Pugno in a statement. “This order means that voters will get their day in court and ensures that voters will have a vigorous defense of Proposition 8 before the California Supreme Court. We are profoundly gratified with the Court’s order and are confident that Proposition 8 will be upheld.”
The state’s highest court essentially agreed to the approach supported by state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who on Monday urged the justices to review legal challenges to Proposition 8 “to provide certainty and finality in this matter.” His office also argued that the court should allow the measure to remain in effect during the review period because doing otherwise would cause confusion.
Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said opponents of Proposition 8 would have preferred that the court allow gay marriages until the issue is decided.
“We’re disappointed that the court didn’t issue a stay, but we’re very encouraged that the court is taking the case,” she said.