Hollingsworth v. Perry Decided

June 26, 2013

Whether California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, violates equal protection.

After a California law defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman was struck down by the state supreme court as contrary to the state constitution, California voters adopted Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to overrule the state supreme court’s decision. Represented by prominent attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, two same-sex couples filed a federal legal challenge to Proposition 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 27, 2009. In August of 2010, a Federal District Court struck down Proposition 8. In February of 2012, a panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s decision. En banc review was denied by the Ninth Circuit, and the case is now before the Supreme Court under the name Hollingsworth v. Perry.

The ACLU has filed multiple amicus briefs in this case: one in support of a motion for preliminary injunction at the trial court, one after the trial, one before the Ninth Circuit, and one before the Supreme Court. In its Supreme Court amicus brief, the ACLU joins with numerous other civil rights and human rights groups to argue that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened judicial scrutiny because of a long history of discrimination against lesbians and gay men based on a characteristic that bears no relationship to their ability to contribute to society. The brief further argues that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under any level of equal protection review.

Status:The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 26, 2013.

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