A quick note: I spent the better part of this morning reading the SCOTUS ruling on Prop 8 so I know what I’m talking about.
For those of you that live under a rock, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Proposition 8 (sort of) and the portion of the Defense of Marriage act that basically said that even if the state recognizes a same-sex marriage the Federal government does not. In a nutshell, this meant that same-sex couple could not file federal joint tax returns, were not entitled to their deceased’s social security, and weren’t entitled to get notification in the event of their loved one’s death.
“Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit” xoxo Chief Justice Roberts. Basically, the Supreme Court did not say that Proposition 8 in unconstitutional and should be erased from the California Constitution, instead what it did say was that the people appealing the decision of the District Court in California (the Court that ruled Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and instructed officials not to enforce it) had no standing to appeal the court’s decision which meant that the following decisions from the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit were irrelevant.
So what this means for California: Proposition 8 is unconstitutional IN CALIFORNIA but still in the state’s constitution. The unwillingness of the US Supreme Court to rule in favor or against the constitutionality of Proposition 8 means that this fight is still not over. Furthermore, President Obama’s response to SCOTUS’ ruling on DOMA and lack thereof on this ruling probably indicates Obama’s understanding that the controversy surrounding Proposition 8 is not over. Robert’s made it very clear that this was about the legality of the petitioner’s right to appeal the District Court’s decision, not what Proposition 8 was about.
I might be looking at the glass half empty on this one but this was not a clear win for anyone today on Proposition 8. Especially with Sotomayor and Kennedy joining the dissent and Roberts and Scalia writing the opinion of the court.
These four justices switched sides between the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings. Roberts and Scalia are both Republican appointed CONSERVATIVE justices. Sotomayor is a liberal justice and Kennedy seems to fall on the liberal side of gay rights issues. I’m not really sure what to make of this role reversal.