Wednesday, August 4, 2010

District Judge Finds Proposition 8 Unconstitutional: Opinion and Brief Analysis

The anticipated Proposition 8 opinion has just been issued: Judge Vaughn Walker has concluded that Proposition 8 as enacted is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in a 138 page opinion here.

Approximately one hundred pages of the opinion discuss the witnesses and make findings of fact.  The Judge's opinion is exceedingly detailed and makes specific credibility determinations about witnesses and testimony.   Our recap of the trial, linking to daily posts of the trial and witnesses is here.

Judge Walker finds that there is a "fundamental right to marry" which Proposition 8 burdens in violation of the Due Process Clause.   He also finds that the sexual orientation classification does not satisfy the rational basis standard and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Again, with great detail and reference to specific testimony, Walker examines each of the state's interests (or more accurately, the interests advanced on behalf of the Proposition 8 Proponents at trial), and finds that they do not satisfy the standard.

Judge Walker's conclusion is short:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.  Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Walker thus enjoined the enforcement of Proposition 8.

Perhaps anticipating this conclusion, proponents of Proposition 8 reportedly filed a motion to stay the Judge's ruling the evening before it was issued.  


Defendant-intervenors (“proponents”) have moved to stay the court’s judgment pending appeal. Doc #705. They noticed the motion for October 21, 2010 and moved to shorten time. Doc #706.

The motion to shorten time is GRANTED.

Plaintiffs, plaintiff-intervenor and defendants are DIRECTED to submit their responses to the motion to stay on or before August 6, 2010, at which time the motion will stand submitted without a hearing unless otherwise ordered.

The clerk shall STAY entry of judgment herein until the motion to stay pending appeal, Doc #705, has been decided.


[see also comment]

[update stay order here]

The Proponents of Proposition 8 will undoubtedly appeal to the Ninth Circuit. 


Equal Protection, Family, Fourteenth Amendment, Fundamental Rights, Gender, Reconstruction Era Amendments, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality | Permalink

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A stay on overturn of Prop 8 was issued by J. Walker. Plaintiffs, plaintiff-intervenor and defendants have been directed to respond to Doc on or before August 6, 2010. The clerk shall STAY entry of... judgment herein
until the motion to stay pending appeal has been decided.

Posted by: Danny Kirchoff | Aug 4, 2010 3:08:02 PM

Proposition 8 Unconstitutional? You mean to tell me that Leviticus, was just the original fundamental Republican (emphasis on mental) who had not made it out of the closet (kinda like Ted Haggard)? Lets face it was not in the Ten Commandments or even addressed by Jesus the son of God, so are we surprised with this ruling, its about time.

Posted by: Linda | Aug 4, 2010 5:51:57 PM

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