In the other major Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case recently heard by the United States Supreme Court, a ‘Supreme’ Majority, in a 5 to 4 decision, held that the official sponsors of California’s Proposition 8 lack Article III (of the U.S. Constitution) standing to appeal the U.S. District Court’s order striking it down as unconstitutional or to defend its constitutionality in the 9th Circuit or in the United States Supreme Court.

The case of Hollingsworth v. Perry stems from when California voters had initially approved Proposition 8, which had amended California’s Constitution to provide that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid or recognized in California.  Two same-sex couples wishing to marry, immediately challenged the law’s constitutionality in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The District Court held Prop 8 to be unconstitutional.  When the state of California refused to appeal that decision, proponents of Prop 8 appealed.  The matter eventually ended up with the ‘Supremes’, when the USSCT granted certiorari.

In reaching its decision in the case, the United States Supreme Court made six (6) important legal findings.  They are:

1)      The United States Supreme Court has the power to decide only actual cases and controversies brought by persons who have standing to do so;

2)      A person must show that he/she has suffered a “concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct and is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision”;

3)      Standing must be shown at all stages of the litigation, including appeal;

4)      Proponents lack standing to pursue either the appeal or the cert proceeding because they have no personal stake in enforcing Prop 8 beyond the general interest of any other California resident;

5)      Proponents cannot establish standing by asserting the rights or interests of third parties; and

6)      California Supreme Court’s determination that proponents had standing does not confer standing on them as agents of the state and cannot override standing requirements of Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

In all, the Majority held that proponents lacked standing to appeal in the 9th Circuit, and the 9th Circuit lacked jurisdiction to consider their appeal.

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