2009 Press Releases

Media Advisory

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


California Supreme Court Expected to Rule Tuesday on Prop. 8 Gay Marriage Ban

Berkeley Law Experts Available for Interviews and Analysis

Contact: Susan Gluss, UC Berkeley School of Law, 510.642.6936 or sgluss@law.berkeley.edu

Berkeley, CA—May 26, 2009… A ruling by the California Supreme Court is expected Tuesday on the constitutionality of the voter-approved initiative, Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. The measure appeared on the state ballot in November 2008, and passed with a 52 percent majority.

Immediately after the election, three lawsuits were filed challenging the validity of Proposition 8 on the grounds that revoking the right of gay couples to marry was a constitutional "revision" rather than an "amendment,” and therefore required the prior approval of two-thirds of the State Legislature. Plaintiffs in the suits included same-sex couples, the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Santa Clara County. The California Supreme Court heard these challenges to Prop. 8 in March 2009.

Meanwhile, an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that were validated in California before the passage of Prop. 8 are still officially recognized.

UC Berkeley School of Law scholars who can offer commentary include:

Associate Dean and Law Professor Goodwin Liu, an expert on constitutional law, civil rights, and the Supreme Court. Liu signed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the 2008 re: Marriage Cases that overturned state law banning gay marriage. Professor Liu has also testified before the state assembly and senate judiciary committees on the legal impact of Prop 8.

Direct contact: gliu@law.berkeley.edu; or 510-642-7509

Law Professor Jesse Choper, a constitutional scholar and expert on the U.S. Supreme Court. Choper can address the question of: What next? The case can’t go to the Supreme Court, but advocates can push the legislature to take action. Choper wrote a brief in favor of plaintiffs in re: Marriage Cases advising the court to rule on the basis of constitutional interpretation—not public opinion.

Direct contact: jchoper@law.berkeley.edu, or 510.642.0339

Law Professor Herma Hill Kay and Lecturer Joan Hollinger, family law scholars who co-authored an amicus brief in support of civil marriage for gay couples. The brief argued that the California Legislature and courts had already determined that there was no meaningful difference between committed same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and had therefore extended full recognition and legal protections to same-sex partners and their children. Kay and Hollinger also joined an amicus brief in the current litigation, arguing that even if Prop 8 bans future gay marriages, the existing 18,000 marriages by same-sex couples will continue to be valid in California.

Direct contact: hkay@law.berkeley.edu or jhollinger@law.berkeley.edu.

For assistance arranging an interview with any of these experts, please contact Susan Gluss, sgluss@law.berkeley.edu or 510-642-6936.

About University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

For over a century, Berkeley Law has prepared lawyers to be skilled and ethical problem-solvers. The law school’s curriculum—one of the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation—offers its J.D. and advanced degree candidates a broad array of nearly 200 courses. Students collaborate with leading scholars and practitioners working on complex issues at more than a dozen interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and clinical programs within its Boalt Hall complex. For more information, visit http://www.law.berkeley.edu/