The California Supreme Court announced this week that on March 5th it will hear oral arguments in three cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The state ballot measure effectively banned same-sex marriage in the state after it was approved by California voters in November 2008.
California’s highest court will hold a three-hour hearing on March 5, 2009 (9:00 a.m. to noon) at its courthouse in San Francisco. The court has also announced that, in light of the high level of public interest in the Prop 8 cases, it has designated the public affairs cable network The California Channel to provide a live television broadcast of the March 5 oral arguments. That station will serve as a “pool” channel, which means its broadcast will likely be made available to other television stations.
According to a California Courts News Release, the California Supreme Court will be considering three key questions related to Proposition 8’s legality: 1) Did Proposition 8 amount to a revision of the state’s Constitution (making it invalid)?; (2) Does Proposition 8 violate the state constitution’s separation of powers requirements?; and (3) If Proposition 8 is legal, what is the legal effect on same-sex marriages performed prior to the measure’s adoption? It is customary for the court to issue a ruling within 90 days of after oral arguments, so a decision on Prop 8 should come down before mid-June.
The Prop 8 case has drawn an unprecedented level of interest and campaigning on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “final reports filed with the state this week showed that the opposing sides spent $85 million on the campaign - $40 million for supporters of Prop. 8, $45 million for opponents - the highest total in U.S. history for a ballot measure on a social issue.”