Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker set January 11, 2010 to hear a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that banned homosexual "marriage" in the state.
The lawsuit was filed in May by attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson on behalf of two homosexual couples who were denied marriage licenses after 52.3 percent of California voters approved Prop. 8 last November to amend the California Constitution to specify, "Only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California."
The two attorneys argue that Prop. 8 denies their clients "the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General Jerry Brown are named as defendants, though Mr. Brown has said he won’t defend against the suit, and Governor Schwarzenegger said that he wants to remain neutral.
During a hearing yesterday Judge Walker, who surprised many by his decision to bring the case to trial so quickly, denied intervener status to a coalition of three homosexual rights groups, as well as to Campaign for California Families that worked for the successful outcome of the referendum.
Walker stated that allowing Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who filed a joint petition with the court to become plaintiffs in the case, would create unnecessary delay and confusion.
The demands of the homosexual groups "are identical and can be adequately represented by the plaintiffs. Permitting them to intervene might delay the proceedings. The current parties are capable of addressing the facts involved in this case," Walker said.
"The Campaign (for California Families) has failed to explain how its interests are different from the proponents of Prop 8," said Walker from the bench, and denied the group intervener status because he judged the defendants, Governor Schwarzenegger and the state, were adequately represented.
Judge Walker criticized Schwarzenegger’s lack of input and interest in the case.
"I am surprised by the governor’s position in this case. It is a matter of some importance to the people of the state of California and it would be quite useful to have his input on a constitutional matter of this magnitude," said Walker. "The governor’s views would be helpful to have."
Walker indicated that he expected the January decision would probably result in an appeal to the US Supreme Court.