A federal appeals panel will hear arguments Monday in a case that seeks to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Most observers expect the case to be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A lower court previously ruled that Prop 8 violates plaintiffs’ constitutional right to due process and equal protection.
The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was named earlier this week and will hear oral arguments Monday. Those arguments begin at 2 p.m. EST and will be televised on C-SPAN. The proceedings are scheduled to last two hours.
Two of the three judges on the panel were appointed by Democrats and are viewed as liberal, leading many to speculate that the panel will uphold the lower court’s finding that Prop 8 should be scrapped.
Judges Michael Hawkins, Stephen Reinhardt and N. Randy Smith were chosen at random to hear the case. Reinhardt is viewed as one of the most liberal members of the 9th Circuit, the Washington Post reported. Smith, however, was appointed by President George W. Bush and served as chair of the Idaho Republican Party in the 1990s. He graduated from Brigham Young University and media reports this week have identified him as a Mormon. The Mormon Church reportedly poured millions of dollars into the effort to pass Proposition 8 in 2008.
Another Bush appointee, former solicitor general Ted Olson, is representing those seeking to overturn Prop 8. The conservative legal icon surprised many gay rights advocates when he took the case along with David Boies. Olson and Boies have extensive experience arguing cases before the Supreme Court and were on opposing sides of the Bush v. Gore case that decided the 2000 presidential election.
Check back next week for coverage of Monday’s oral arguments.
In related news, Kristina Schake, a board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is behind the Prop 8 lawsuit, announced she is leaving that post to become first lady Michelle Obama’s communications director.
“Kristina has done extensive work throughout her career on child nutrition and community health issues, and that paired with her experience as part of a military family will bring invaluable insight to our work on childhood obesity and our efforts to support military families,” Obama said.