THE CALIFORNIA Channel, created by the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) in 1991, will provide gavel-to-gavel live coverage of the three-hour oral argument before the California Supreme Court on the validity of controversial Proposition 8, a constitutional ballot initiative approved by California voters in November 2008 that banned "gay marriage" in the state.
Live coverage begins at 9 AM on The California Channel and extends to noon on March 5th. The hearing will also be streamed live on www.calchannel.com. And that site will archive the proceedings in case you can't make it at 9 AM.
Background to Legal Arguments: On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down a state statute banning gay marriage, ruling that the ban violated the equal protection clause of the California State Constitution. On November 4, 2008, California voters voted to override that decision and amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Opponents to Prop. 8 argue that it illegally "revises" the state constitution and should be reversed. California's ballot initiative process, created in 1911, allows ballot initiatives to "amend" the California Constitution, but it prohibits "revisions" to the Constitution through the initiative process. Opponents of Prop. 8 argue that the measure represents an impermissible “revision” to the state constitution because it deprives a certain class of citizens of a fundamental civil right, the right to marry.
The distinction between a constitutional "amendment" and a "revision" under California law has not yet been fully articulated by the California Supreme Court. Supporters of Prop. 8 argue the measure merely amends the state constitution, and that a ban on gay marriage is not a revision because it does not fundamentally restructure the balance of state governmental powers.
Attorney General Jerry Brown goes farther, arguing, on behalf of the state that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional because it seeks to repeal an inalienable civil right. Under this theory, presumably even the people could not approve a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by the legislature that deprives people of fundamental civil liberties.
At stake in this landmark proceeding are important issues involving the constitutionality of a ban on gay marriage, the distinction between constitutional "amendments" and "revisions" under California's ballot initiative law, the extent of the power of the people to change the state constitution, and, if Prop. 8 is upheld, the validity of gay marriages performed after May 15, 2008 and before November 4, 2008.