Prop 8 Appeal: What Happens Next
The Future of Prop 8: Merit Appeal at 9th Circuit Court
After Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, what happens now?
Short-term: the effect of the ruling is stayed until August 6th. At that point, Walker can lift the stay pending appeal: the ruling can into effect and the losing side files its appeal. This means that California can hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
- Full Text of Judge Vaughn Walker's Ruling on Prop 8
- Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional: Protests & Celebration
However, Prop 8's proponents have already announced their merit appeal, and are trying to take the issue out of Walker's hands and directly to the 9th Circuit Court.
The merit appeal brings the case before a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court, which would prevent Prop 8 from being immediately struck down. Whichever side loses the merit appeal will certainly appeal to the entire 9th Circuit Court.
Prop 8: Likely Headed for Supreme Court
Should the 9th Circuit Court uphold that Prop 8 is indeed unconstitutional, Prop 8 supporters can appeal yet again- to the US Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court does not have to agree to hear the case, which would take years to reach the highest court anyway.
Should the Supreme Court agree to hear the appeal and uphold Walker's original decision, the effect would be disastrous for opponents of marriage equality: think what Roe vs. Wade did to the anti-abortion movement.
Either way, the next step would then be another appeal and a hearing before the full bench of the 9th Circuit. Whichever way the appeals court rules, the case would probably be appealed yet again, finally arriving before the Supreme Court--assuming the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, which legal scholars say is likely.