Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
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The California Supreme Court held that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the California Constitution; state voters then passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples who wished to marry filed suit in federal court, challenging Proposition 8. State officials refused to defend the law, so the district court allowed the initiative’s official proponents to intervene, declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and enjoined its enforcement. State officials declined to appeal. The intervenors appealed. The Ninth Circuit certified a question, which the California Supreme Court answered: official proponents of a ballot initiative have authority to assert the state’s interest to defend the constitutionality of the initiative when public officials refuse to do so. The Ninth Circuit concluded that petitioners had standing and affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded, holding that the intervenors did not have standing to appeal. Article III of the Constitution confines the power of federal courts to deciding actual “Cases” or “Controversies.” A litigant must demonstrate a personal and tangible harm throughout all stages of litigation. The intervenors had standing to initiate this case against the California officials responsible for enforcing Proposition 8, but once the district court issued its order, they no longer had any injury to redress and state officials chose not to appeal. The intervenors had not been ordered to do or refrain from doing anything. Their “generalized grievance” is insufficient to confer standing. The fact that a state thinks a private party should have standing to seek relief for a generalized grievance cannot override settled law to the contrary. View "Hollingsworth v. Perry" on Justia Law

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The California Supreme Court held that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the California Constitution; state voters then passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples who wished to marry filed suit in federal court, challenging Proposition 8. State officials refused to defend the law, so the district court allowed the initiative’s official proponents to intervene, declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and enjoined its enforcement. State officials declined to appeal. The intervenors appealed. The Ninth Circuit certified a question, which the California Supreme Court answered: official proponents of a ballot initiative have authority to assert the state’s interest to defend the constitutionality of the initiative when public officials refuse to do so. The Ninth Circuit concluded that petitioners had standing and affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded, holding that the intervenors did not have standing to appeal. Article III of the Constitution confines the power of federal courts to deciding actual “Cases” or “Controversies.” A litigant must demonstrate a personal and tangible harm throughout all stages of litigation. The intervenors had standing to initiate this case against the California officials responsible for enforcing Proposition 8, but once the district court issued its order, they no longer had any injury to redress and state officials chose not to appeal. The intervenors had not been ordered to do or refrain from doing anything. Their “generalized grievance” is insufficient to confer standing. The fact that a state thinks a private party should have standing to seek relief for a generalized grievance cannot override settled law to the contrary. View "Hollingsworth v. Perry" on Justia Law