Ben Johnson


California Court refuses to review decision striking down voter-approved marriage amendment

Ben Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 6, 2012, ( –  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to review a three-judge panel’s decision that California’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman violates the U.S. Constitution. Tuesday’s ruling means the case will land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Ninth Circuit panel came to the decision by a split, 2-1 vote. 

The dissenting opinion called the other two judges’ decree a “gross misapplication” of Supreme Court precedent “that would be unrecognizable to the Justices who joined it, to those who dissented from it, and to the judges from sister circuits who have since interpreted it.” 

Those Supreme Court justices are all but certain to place this case on their docket, perhaps alongside a case on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“We’re pleased to petition the [Supreme] Court to hear this case,” said lead counsel Charles J. Cooper with the Cooper & Kirk law firm. “The lower court opinions were little more than an attack on the character and judgment of millions of Californians, and those decisions essentially ignored all relevant Supreme Court and appellate court precedent.”

The ruling let stand another three-judge panel of the court that ruled in February that the California ballot proposition, supported by seven million voters, was unconstitutional.

In an 89-page opinion that quoted William Shakespeare and Marilyn Monroe, Judge Stephen Reinhardt had written, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

In 2008, California voters approved the state constitutional amendment defending marriage by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. However, U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is in a long-term homosexual relationship, ruled in August 2010 that the measure “both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“Marriage is a universal good that has been honored by diverse cultures and faiths for the entire history of Western Civilization,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Brian Raum in response to the 9th Circuit Court’s recent decision. “The democratic process and the most important human institution—marriage—shouldn’t be overthrown based on the demands of Hollywood activists.”

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), called the decision an act of “judicial arrogance.” NOM referred to the judge who wrote the original opinion in February, Stephen Reinhardt, as “the most overturned judge on the most overturned court in America.”   

Homosexual activists celebrated the temporary victory.

“Our case has entered the final chapter…The end is now in sight,” said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a lobbying group that favors redefining marriage.

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