Same-sex marriage supporters went 2-for-2 on this 26th day of June.
Having already struck down DOMA, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed California’s Prop 8, effectively making gay marriage legal in the Golden State.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices held in Hollingsworth v. Perry that an appeals court’s rejection of California’s same-sex marriage ban would stand.
The petitioners did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion:
“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to.”
“We decline to do so for the first time here.”
Roberts was joined in his 5-4 majority opinion by Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.
Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion in the much-watched Prop 8 case, joined by Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.
The judgment of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was vacated and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
As many predicted, the ruling was limited in scope.
The SCOTUS avoided the plaintiffs’ contention that Prop 8 deprives them of their constitutional right to equal protection through the ability to marry.
By dismissing the challenge to the lower court’s ruling, the justices cleared the way for gay marriage in California, but left other marriage laws untouched.
California voters approved Proposition 8 in 2008 through a ballot initiative, reversing the State Supreme Court’s recognition of gay marriage earlier that year.
Two same-sex couples challenged the ban in federal court, and by the time their suit reached the justices, two lower courts had declared it unconstitutional.
Those rulings were effectively upheld by the SCOTUS, which decided that the private parties challenging them lacked the legal standing to do so.