"You waltz right in the door/Just like you done before"
The California Supreme Court has agreed to answer the question that the Ninth Circuit requested it answer for Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal lawsuit seeking to hold Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The California high court's decision, although not a certainty, was widely expected by legal observers. The accelerated schedule the court has set (with briefing to start by mid-March and be completed by early May, and oral argument likely in September, to be followed by decision 90 days later) puts it in line with most of the referred questions the court has decided in the shortest time in recent years. So, although almost a year for this referral process (which started January 4, 2011) is a long time for those same-sex couples waiting to see whether and when California will again allow them to get legally married in California, it is much better than almost three years, which the court took in one referred case about five years ago. And starting next month we can expect the parties to brief the question of the authority to defend Prop 8 in litigation that Prop 8's proponents do or do not enjoy under California law, which will be a very important input to the Ninth Circuit's analysis of whether the proponents have standing to pursue an appeal when the case returns to federal court. (I have previously blogged about that question here and here.)