SCOTUS Prop. 8 Decision Delayed Again

By NBC Staff and Wires
|  Monday, Dec 3, 2012  |  Updated 1:42 PM PDT
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Some legal experts predict the court will decline to take the Prop 8 appeal at all.

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The U.S. Supreme Court delayed a decision on Monday whether it will review the case of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage. The next chance the court might take up the case again could be Friday.

The nine justices possibly may consider taking up the Proposition 8 case and several related cases concerning the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

If the panel agrees to review the cases, it would hear arguments sometime this spring and issue a written ruling by the end of June. Or, the justices may not take up the issue, which would mean the lower court's ruling would stand on Prop. 8.

Proposition 8 has been left in effect during the appeals process. If the high court denies review, the final ruling in the case will be a decision earlier this year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturning the ban. Gay and lesbian marriages could then resume in California as soon as the circuit court issues its mandate in the case. Lawyers for two couples who challenged Proposition 8 have estimated that the mandate could be issued within two or three days.

In the event that the Supreme Court denies review, San Francisco and Los Angeles County have asked the 9th Circuit to provide 24 hours notice before issuing the mandate so county clerks can prepare for an expected influx of requests for marriage licenses. If the 9th Circuit ruling becomes the final decision in the case, it would apply only to California.

That court said by a 2-1 vote in February that because same-sex marriage was legal in California for several months in 2008, it would be unconstitutional to deprive gays and lesbians of an existing right. The sponsors of Proposition 8 and their committee, Protect Marriage, have argued in their appeal that California voters were entitled to choose a traditional definition of marriage.

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