With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week that opponents to same-sex marriage in California had no standing to appeal the overturn of Prop 8, same-sex marriage proponents were ready to fire up the wedding planning in earnest. But everyone said it could take a month before all the bells could start ringing. Someone apparently forgot to tell the folks in California. The ruling happened on Wednesday. On Friday they were cutting the cake.
And now opponents of same-sex marriage are running back to SCOTUS to stop the weddings. They have filed an emergency petition. But on what basis? SCOTUS ruled. It was in a few papers.
The organization ProtectMarriage issued a statement on Friday that explained their reasons for thinking they have basis for appeal to SCOTUS now.
We just received word that the Ninth Circuit, without waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision to become final and depriving us of our right to ask for reconsideration, has rushed forward to order same-sex marriage licenses.
This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption.
Homosexual marriage is not happening because the people changed their mind. It isn’t happening because the appellate courts declared a new constitutional right. It’s happening because enemies of the people have abused their power to manipulate the system and render the people voiceless.
The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonorable fashion, they should be ashamed.
It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on, but either way, it is a disgraceful day for California.
The entire issue hinges on a mater of wording and timing. The ProtectMarriage folks explain it this way.
When the Ninth Circuit originally put in place its stay to prevent same-sex marriage pending Supreme Court action, it stated clearly that “the stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court.” Under Supreme Court procedural rules, “final disposition” comes when the Supreme Court issues a “mandate” to the Ninth Circuit, at least 25 days after announcing its opinion in the case. The 25-day waiting period is provided to allow parties such as Prop 8′s proponents to petition the Supreme Court for a re-hearing of the case.
Today’s petition asks the Supreme Court to find that the Ninth Circuit had no jurisdiction to order same-sex marriages on Friday, since the case had not yet come back down from the nation’s highest court.
However, there are some interesting twists to whether the Ninth Circuit Court's statement about waiting until final disposition is even still in effect. What SCOTUS actually did was not to declare Prop 8 invalid. That had already been done by the original district court ruling in California. SCOTUS ruled that proponents of Prop 8 had no "standing" to appeal the district court's decision. Thus they never heard any further argument in the case. But they also ruled that the Ninth Circuit should have never heard the case in the first place either, and ordered the decision of the Ninth - possibly including the stay itself - to be vacated. The argument could be made that such a vacating also undoes the statement by the Ninth about waiting until the "final disposition" of SCOTUS.
ProtectMarriage went even further in their statement, raising the question about why so many people seemed ready to perform marriages within minutes of the Ninth ordering them valid again on Friday.
Suspiciously, the Ninth Circuit’s announcement late Friday ordering same-sex marriages came as a surprise, without any warning or notice to Proposition 8′s official proponents. However, the same-sex couple plaintiffs in the case, their media teams, San Francisco City Hall, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the California Attorney General all happened to be in position to perform same-sex marriages just minutes after the Ninth Circuit’s “unexpected” announcement.
Most statements issued by this group appear to come from one man, an attorney named Anthony Pugno, who serves as General Counsel for ProtectMarriage. Pugno ran for a California State Assembly seat in 2012, but lost to the incumbent Republican in a 69-to-31 percent shellacking.