Today, the United States Supreme Court indicated that it will again consider whether to grant review in Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. The Perry case, along with several cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), have been distributed for consideration at the Justices’ private Conference scheduled for Friday, December 7. The Proposition 8 and DOMA cases were considered at the Justices’ Conference of Friday, November 30, but the Court took no action in any of the cases.
Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. DOMA, which was enacted by Congress in 1996, nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.
The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. On July 30, 2012, the proponents of Proposition 8 asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s judgment. A request for Supreme Court review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, is only granted upon an affirmative vote of four Justices.
Should the Court grant review, the Justices will go on to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. If the Court denies review, the February 2012 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that struck down Proposition 8 is made permanent, ending four years of marriage inequality in California.
The Supreme Court is expected to release an Order List with its decisions on cases it has granted or denied review from its December 7 Conference by Monday, December 10. In the event that the Court neither grants nor denies review in Perry by December 10, the Justices will discuss the case again at a future Conference.