Prop 8: Recapping Today’s Proceedings

The oral arguments in today's Prop 8 case have been heard. Here, a roundup of experts' analysis and images of what was going on outside the courtroom.

The oral arguments in today’s Prop 8 case in the Supreme Court have been heard and posted for all to hear and read. Here are some recaps to keep you updated on what to expect going forward. 

I followed two bloggers who were inside the courtroom today, The Advocate‘s Kerry Eleveld and SCOTUSblog writer Tom Goldstein, who did an amazing job live-tweeting the proceedings.

In her recap on The Advocate, Eleveld offers five big takeaways from the hearing, concluding with her opinion that:

Standing is a real question in this case, and the justices grilled both Olson and Charles Cooper, the lawyer for proponents. The court is obviously very seriously considering whether the proponents in the case really did have the authority to represent the state and the people of California when they appealed district court judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling. Following the arguments, Olson said that if the court rules the proponents did not have standing to challenge the ruling, that would be a “win” for marriage equality. There has been some debate about what would happen if that was the view of the court, but many experts believe, as Olson seems to, such a decision would leave Judge Walker’s ruling in place and same-sex marriages would return to California statewide.

Goldstein’s analysis wasn’t so optimistic:

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that the Court probably will not have the five votes necessary to get to any result at all, and almost certainly will not have five votes to decide the merits of whether Proposition 8 is constitutional.

Several Justices seriously doubt whether the petitioners defending Proposition 8 have “standing” to appeal the district court ruling invalidating the measure. These likely include not only more liberal members but also the Chief Justice. If standing is lacking, the Court would vacate the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

The Justices seem divided on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 on ideological lines, four to four – i.e., all the members other than Justice Kennedy. For the more liberal members of the Court, there was no clarity on how broadly they would rule.

The upshot of either scenario is a modest step forward for gay rights advocates, but not a dramatic one. The Court would stay its hand for some time for society to develop its views further. But combined with a potentially significant ruling in the DOMA case being argued tomorrow, the Term will likely nonetheless end up as very significant to gay rights.

And for those who enjoy more of a visual interpretation of today’s events, other blogs have offered a collection of images and videos:

Exhausted yet? We’re only just beginning. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court judges will hear arguments in a case against the Defense of Marriage Act. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates on that as well as anything new that filters in about today’s Prop 8 hearing.

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