Over at Metro Weekly, reporter Chris Geidner has posted an excellent 10-item FAQ sheet about today’s hearing of Prop 8 in the Ninth Circuit Court. Question #8 asks: “What Could The Court Rule?”
With no specified timeline, the court will issue its ruling — although the fact that the court gave the case expedited consideration as to briefing and the scheduling of the oral arguments suggests it is cognizant of the desire for a quick resolution of the case.
If the court holds that some party has standing to appeal Walker’s ruling, it could affirm the trial court and say that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional or it could reverse the trial court and say that Proposition 8 is constitutional. At that point, the ruling would have “precedent” — meaning the judges would need to adhere to it — in all of the trial courts in the Ninth Circuit.
The court also could find that neither the proponents nor Imperial County have standing and dismiss the appeal. This would leave Walker’s ruling in place and invalidate Proposition 8, but would limit the ruling only to his order and provide no appellate precedent that would apply to the entire Ninth Circuit.
To take the least likely position, it could dismiss the appeal and also hold that no standing existed at trial, which could lead the appellate court to vacate Walker’s judgment and, effectively, erase the entire case. This would mean that Proposition 8 would remain in effect. Because the state of California was enforcing Proposition 8 at the time of trial — and still now — it would be extraordinary for the court to take this route.