http://www.mercurynews.com/crime/ci_11838385Those urging the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage seemed to have had a tough row to hoe Thursday, peppered by justices' questions on balancing marriage rights with voters' rights to change the state constitution.
After three hours of arguments, it seemed as though the seven justices leaned against voiding the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed last year, but their stance on Proposition 8's constitutionality was less clear.
CA Supreme Court Site:
Before everyone goes off ranting about liberal activists judges, you'd better get some background info on the current court:
- Six justices were appointed by Republicans (George, Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, and Corrigan) and one by a Democrat, Moreno.
- There are two Asian-American justices (Chin and Kennard), one Hispanic justice (Moreno), and four white justices (George, Baxter, Corrigan, and Werdegar).
- The justices come from principally Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations, but do not publicly discuss their religious views.
- Kennard, a leg amputee, is the only justice with a physical disability.
After justices are appointed, they are subject to a retention vote at the next general election, and thereafter at twelve-year intervals. The CA electorate has occasionally exercised the power to not retain justices. Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin were staunchly opposed to capital punishment and were subsequently removed in the 1986 general election. Newly-elected Governor George Deukmejian was then able to elevate Associate Justice Malcolm M. Lucas to Chief Justice and appoint three new conservative associate justices.
A good friend of mine is a deputy AG for the state. He has argued before the court several times--mostly on evidence and criminal appeals (he works to keep people in jail) anyway, he said the court as it sits tends to lean toward Strict Constructionist (not activists) which confuses a lot of people given their decision last year. How can conservative legal philosophies be contrary to some conservative social ideals?
Based on what I read about today's arguments, it's anyone's guess. The justices seemed to be equally critical of Kennith Star and the lawyer representing the AG.
The one other thing that should be noted: Statistical analysis conducted by LexisNexis personnel at the Court's request indicate that the decisions of the Supreme Court of California are by far the most followed of any state supreme court in the United States. Between 1940 and 2005, 1,260 decisions of the Court were expressly followed by out-of-state courts (meaning that those courts expressly found the Court's reasoning persuasive and applied it to the cases before them).