DOMA challenge scheduled for the next day, setting the stage for back-to-back showdown over LGBT civil rights
SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 7, 2013) — The U.S. Supreme Court moments ago published its formal argument calendar for March 2013, scheduling oral arguments in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, called Hollingsworth v. Perry, for March 26, beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT (7:00 a.m. PDT).
Another case that is also related to same-sex marriage rights — a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA — will be heard the following day, on March 27, at the same time. That case is called United States v. Windsor.
In granting review to both marquee marriage equality cases exactly one month ago, the nation’s highest court set the stage for potentially landmark rulings on LGBT civil rights that promise to be the most eagerly-anticipated of the current court term. Rulings are expected by the end of June.
The legal issues at stake in the challenge to Prop 8, the controversial 2008 ballot measure that eliminated marriage rights for same-sex partners in California, are two-fold: first, whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and second, whether the proponents of Prop 8 have legal standing to litigate the case.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights filed the lawsuit in May 2009 on behalf two California couples who sought to marry: Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. They are represented by lead counsel Theodore B. Olson and David Boies. City Attorney Dennis Herrera intervened as a co-plaintiff in the case in August 2009, renewing San Francisco’s groundbreaking pubic sector legal advocacy for the broader societal interest to end marriage discrimination against lesbian and gay couples. At trial, Herrera and his legal team provided extensive evidence that state and local governments derive significant societal and economic benefits when same-sex partners enjoy equal marriage rights — and, conversely, that denying such rights inflicts grave injustices on the LGBT community that, in turn, harm government and society at large.
When the high court granted review to the case on Dec. 7, 2012, Herrera said: “The federal challenge to Prop 8 represents one of the most significant civil rights cases to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, and I’m confident that the high court will reach a decision that reaffirms our Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s argument calendar is published online here:
The comprehensive timeline of San Francisco’s legal battle for marriage equality since February 2004 is available here.
The Prop 8 case is: Hollingsworth v. Perry, U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 12-144. The DOMA case is: United States v. Windsor, U.S. Supreme Court, Docket No. 12-307.