UPDATE: Bay City News is reporting that Walker has stated that he is “inclined not to grant a preliminary injunction against California’s same-sex marriage ban, but instead to proceed “promptly” to a full trial on a legal challenge.”
BCN story republished with permission:
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued the tentative ruling in a lawsuit filed on May 22 by two couples to challenge Proposition 8, the prohibition on gay and lesbian marriage enacted by California voters on Nov. 4.
Walker had been scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the couples’ request for a preliminary injunction suspending the measure.
But in today’s order, the judge said that granting a preliminary injunction in advance of a trial and a final decision in the case “may inject still further uncertainty in an important area of concern and interest to the state and its citizens.”
Instead, Walker said, he is inclined “to proceed directly and expeditiously” to a trial.
The hearing on Thursday will now be a case management conference for scheduling of pretrial deadlines and a possible trial date. Walker said he will also hear arguments on whether he should reconsider his decision to skip the preliminary injunction phase of the case.
Walker noted in his order that both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General Jerry Brown had urged him not to issue a preliminary injunction because it could create uncertainty about the status of any new same-sex marriages.
Walker also ruled today that the sponsors of Proposition 8 can be the official party defending the measure in court, since Schwarzenegger, Brown and other state officials named as defendants have told him they don’t plan to support the initiative.
Schwarzenegger in a court filing took no position on Proposition 8, while Brown told the judge he considers it to be unconstitutional, even though he opposes a preliminary injunction.
Before the federal lawsuit was filed by a lesbian couple from Berkeley and a gay couple from Burbank, a five-year legal battle over same-sex marriage in California centered on provisions of the state constitution.
But the new lawsuit uses a different tactic and argues that Proposition 8 violated the federal constitutional guarantees of due process and equal treatment.
The outcome of the not-yet-scheduled trial can be appealed to a federal appeals court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here’s the Chronicle report on Walker’s statement, too.
Original story, published 6/30 at 1:07 PM: This Thursday at 10, District Court Judge Vaughn Walker is scheduled to hold a hearing in San Francisco on “two couples’ bid for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Proposition 8.” The federal lawsuit filed by a female couple from Berkeley and a Burbank male couple takes the stand that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
We contacted our gentlemen and ladies on the inside, in hopes that some civil actions might perk up a news-bereft holiday week. Here’s what they said:
We’re not planning anything big. It’s very dry procedural courtroom stuff; basically step three of ten thousand on the way to SCOTUS. There is a teeny tiny chance that this judge will suspend the marriage ban for a while, in which case more couples would be able to get married. (Probably. Or maybe not. Nobody knows!) Jerry Brown has said that this would create so much legal confusion that nobody would know what to do.
“Legal confusion”‘s no madness in the streets, but it just might do. Cross your fingers!
Image from the May 26 anti Prop 8 protests by Chris Roberts for the Appeal.