WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2013 ( – The Supreme Court has issued a ruling that could lead to the resumption of same-sex “marriages” in the state of California after a thin majority of justices held that the state's voters had no legal standing to challenge a court decision striking down Proposition 8.

Under federal law, they said, the people of a state have no legal recourse if a popular initiative is struck down by judicial decree.

After a vigorous debate, the voters of California passed Proposition 8 in November 2008 by a margin of 52-48.


After a lower court threw out that the voter-supported constitutional amendment – which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman – Governor Jerry Brown, then the state's attorney general, as well as other elected officials refused to appeal the decision. Instead, a coalition of voters and private citizens cited their right to defend the measure in court.

Under state law, they argued, the voters may defend such a law in court, if their elected representatives do not go to court on their behalf. However, the court ruled that state law was irrelevant in a federal case such as this one.

The justices declined to rule on the underlying issue of redefining marriage, specifically whether they believe that this or any other state ban on same-sex “marriage” meets constitutional scrutiny. Opponents of the law had argued any ban on homosexual “marriage” would violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause.

By a 5-4 margin, justices vacated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on procedural grounds and remanded the case to that liberal court, instructing the court to dismiss the appeal.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, joined by much of the court's liberal bloc – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer – and the conservative Antonin Scalia.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here,” the justices wrote in their decision, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

“Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal.” They concluded, “The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”

The decision came moments after the court, by a 5-4 margin, struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.

Pro-family groups reacted swiftly to the decision, saying it disenfranchised the popular will of the people and left the issue of marriage in legal limbo.

“We are disturbed that the court refused to acknowledge that the proponents of Proposition 8 have standing to defend Proposition 8,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “This distorts the balance of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The Court's decision allows the executive branch to effectively veto any duly enacted law, simply by refusing to defend it against a constitutional challenge. Ironically, by refusing to defend the law, California's executive branch has also denied the nation any definitive ruling on the constitutionality of defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The Supreme Court's definition or marriage is irrelevant, some argued, while denying the common assertion that gay “marriage” is “inevitable.”

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet of Human Life International wrote, “Since marriage is an institution that predates any government, the nature and definition of marriage were never in doubt, and thus could not justly be changed by any court or vote.”

“What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society,” Perkins said. “The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”

“We must continue to demand that our political leaders recognize and protect this most natural institution especially in this time of intense bigotry and discrimination toward those who defend marriage in the public square,” Fr. Boquet stated.