The U.S. Supreme Court indicated today it has postponed its consideration of whether to review Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, until Nov. 30.
The postponement means that Monday, Dec. 3, is now a possible date on which the court will announce whether it will hear an appeal by the 2008 voter initiative’s sponsors of a lower court ruling striking down the measure.
If the justices agree to take up the case, they will hear arguments sometime in the spring and issue a written decision by the end of June on whether California voters were entitled to change their state constitution to restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
If they deny review, the lower court ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will become the final decision in the case and gay and lesbian marriages in California could resume.
Lawyers for two couples who filed a lawsuit claiming the initiative violated their federal constitutional rights have said that in the event of a denial of review, same-sex marriages could begin again within a few days.
The 9th Circuit decision has been stayed and Proposition 8 has remained in effect until the appeal is completed.
The high court’s new schedule for consideration was disclosed when the court posted a notice on its electronic docket showing that the Proposition 8 appeal and several cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act have been moved to the agenda for the panel’s private conference on Nov. 30.
The court usually announces orders granting or denying review on the Monday following a conference, which in this instance would be Dec. 3.
The court had previously scheduled the cases for discussion on Nov. 20, which would have made Nov. 26 a possible date for orders.
The placement of a case on the court’s conference agenda does not guarantee the panel will act on the case that day, however.
The court previously listed the Proposition 8 appeal on the agenda of its Sept. 24 conference at the start of the current court term, but never announced any action.
The panel has no deadline for acting on the Proposition 8 appeal.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News