BREAKING: CA Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Challenges To Prop 8

Via Los Angeles Times:

The California Supreme Court agreed today to review legal challenges to Prop. 8, the voter initiative that restored a ban on same-sex marriage, but refused to permit gay weddings to resume pending a ruling. Meeting in closed session, the state high court asked litigants on both sides for more written arguments and scheduled a hearing for next March. The court also signaled its intention to decide the fate of existing same-sex marriages, asking litigants to argue that question.

Today’s decision to review the lawsuits against Proposition 8 did not reveal how the court was leaning. The court could have dismissed the suits, but both opponents and supporters of Proposition 8 sought review to settle legal questions on a matter of statewide importance. Some legal challengers also sought an order that would have permitted same-sex couples to marry until the cases were resolved, a position opposed by Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and Proposition 8 supporters. Only Justice Carlos R. Moreno voted in the private conference to grant such a stay.

So it will be four long months before we get a ruling. Oy.

UPDATE: The California Judicial Council breaks down the situation:

The California Supreme Court today denied requests to stay the enforcement or implementation of Proposition 8, and at the same time agreed to decide several issues arising out of the passage of Proposition 8.

The court’s order, issued in the first three cases that had been filed directly in the state’s highest court challenging the validity of Proposition 8, directed the parties to brief and argue three issues:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation-of-powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

The court issued its order in three cases filed on behalf of a variety of parties, including same-sex couples who seek to enter into marriage despite the passage of Proposition 8, a same-sex couple who married in California prior to the adoption of Proposition 8, and a number of cities and counties whose officials seek to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Petitioners in each of these cases seek an order directing the relevant state officials to refrain from implementing, enforcing, or applying Proposition 8.

In response to the petitions, the Attorney General filed a preliminary opposition, in which he urged the court to assume jurisdiction over these cases to decide the important legal issues presented, but also argued that the court should not stay the operation of Proposition 8 pending the court’s resolution of the issues. The proponents of Proposition 8 also responded to the petitions, seeking to intervene as formal parties in the action and also urging the court to accept the cases for decision. The court’s order granted the motion to intervene filed by the proponents of Proposition 8.

In its order, the court established an expedited briefing schedule, under which briefing will be completed in January 2009 and oral argument potentially could be held as early as March 2009.