The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put Cali’s gay and lesbian couples back on ice yesterday evening by placing a stay on Judge Vaughn Walker’s order declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. A panel of judges issued the stay without explanation, but put the appeal on a fast track. A separate, randomly selected three-judge panel will begin weighing the appeal itself the week of December 6.
Notably, the panel that issued the stay did ask about Prop 8 proponents’ right to appeal the case in the first instance. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
While the Ninth Circuit judges did not give a reason for their decision, they did instruct Prop. 8 proponents to explain why they had legal standing to act in the interests of the state, which is not defending Prop. 8.
The question of standing has become crucial since Walker, in striking down Prop. 8, wrote that the initiative’s defenders “may have little choice but to attempt to convince either the governor or the attorney general to file an appeal.”
Chances are slim that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown will do so, considering that both have pressed for same-sex marriages to be allowed to resume since Walker’s ruling.