A federal appeals court has ruled California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, upholding retired U.S. district judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision in the high-profile case and setting up what could be an eventual showdown over the ballot measure at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nearly three years after two gay couples filed suit when state officials denied them marriage licenses, a three-judge panel with the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday that by stripping gay Californians of the right to marry, Prop. 8 violated protections under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
While the court ruled that Prop. 8 supporters have legal standing to defend the ballot measure after state officials declined to do so, "The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry," wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt in an opinion that that social conservatives and GOP presidential candidates will likely slam as textbook "judicial activism."