March 2, 2011

Prop. 8 case: Not so fast

When the Supreme Court agreed to answer the Ninth Circuit’s question about standing under California law to help the federal appellate court decide its case about Prop. 8, the Supreme Court set an expedited briefing schedule. That wasn’t fast enough for the Prop. 8 opponents, who asked the Supreme Court to further shorten the briefing deadlines and to hear argument on May 23, instead of “as early as September,” as the Supreme Court has ordered.

Yesterday the Supreme Court denied the application to speed things up further.

An advocacy group that opposes Prop. 8 explained the irreparable harm from keeping same-sex marriages on hold: ” hundreds of . . . families are facing new struggles like terminal illness and the prospect of never — no matter what the eventual outcome of this case — being able to exercise the freedoms they have sought for so long.”

Moving at the speed requested by the Prop. 8 opponents is not unprecedented. Last year, in cases concerning the governor’s furlough and line-item veto powers, the court issued opinions within four months after agreeing to hear the cases. Under the court’s current schedule, it will be seven to ten months between the acceptance of the Ninth Circuit’s question and the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Of course, as we’ve mentioned, instead of waiting until the end of the year, the court could have already answered the Ninth Circuit’s question by alternate means.

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