A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Monday issued an emergency stay [order, PDF] pending an appeal of a federal judge's decision overturning Proposition 8, the California ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST news archives]. The stay will prohibit California from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples while the court of appeals considers the issues raised on appeal as well as whether the remaining parties to the suit have Article III standing to appeal. California was scheduled to resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Wednesday, after District Judge Vaughn Walker refused last week to issue a stay [JURIST report] pending appeal. The court of appeals sua sponte ordered that the appeal be expedited pursuant to Rule 2 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure [text] and has ordered the proponents of Proposition 8 to submit opening briefs by September 17. Freedom to Marry [advocacy website] expressed disappointment [press release] in the court's decision, but indicated that they were pleased with the expedited schedule set by the court. Alliance Defense Fund [advocacy website], a defendant-intervenor in the case, stated that the court made the right decision [press release] and that, "refusing to stay the decision would only have created more legal confusion surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending." The court of appeals is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments in the case in December.
Earlier this month, Walker held that the same-sex marriage ban violated the guarantees of due process and equal protection [JURIST report] under the US Constitution, but immediately stayed the ruling. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown and others filed motions [JURIST report] opposing the stay request, which led to Walker's refusal to issue a stay pending appeal. Schwarzenegger and Brown were originally defendants in the lawsuit against Proposition 8, and their refusal to oppose the stay request has left defendant-intervenors Protect Marriage [advocacy website] and other groups to defend the law. The remaining defendant-intervenors have indicated they will, if necessary, appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.