In a first step toward a historic Supreme Court test, a federal judge on Wednesday struck down California’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that so-called “Proposition 8″ — approved by the state’s voters in November 2008 — violated two clauses of the federal Constitution. Those who persuaded the state’s voters to approve the ballot measure have vowed to continue their challenge, up to the Supreme Court. The judge’s 138-page opinion is here. A separate order, putting the ruling on hold until the challengers reply to a plea by Proposition 8 backers to block the ruling while they appeal, can be found here. The reply is due on Friday, and the judge indicated he would rule quickly on that plea.
The judge, in finding a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of legal equality, concluded that California could not justify treating committed couples differently solely because they were of the same sex. He applied the lowest constitutional test — “rational basis” – to this differing treatment. He also ruled that Proposition 8 violated rights that are protected by the Due Process Clause. (continue reading)
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