How The Fight Over Prop. 8 in California Could Affect TX

Everyone's waiting to see what happens next in the legal fight over California's ban on same-sex marriage. A federal judge yesterday ruled that ban to be unconstitutional, setting the stage for appeals that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, as David Pitman reports, even if every appeal resulted in rulings "against" Prop 8, that doesn't necessarily mean the ban on gay marriage in Texas would go away.
For now, the ruling by the judge in California has no bearing at all on the nearly five-year-old constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Texas. Dr. Charles "Rocky" Rhodes is a professor at South Texas College of Law. He says even if the 9th Circuit Court of appeals were to uphold the decision to strike down California's ban, it would have little, if any, influence, should a similar lawsuit make its way through the 5th Circuit, which covers Texas.

"This is just the opinion of one district judge in California. That's not going to be very persuasive authority, especially when there's some very contrary authority from other district judges, and other courts of appeals in earlier cases."

Dr. Rhodes says if the 9th Circuit Court upholds the decision to strike down the ban, then the case will likely end up before the Supreme Court. He says the court could either issue a broad ruling that would invalidate all state bans on gay marriage, or narrowly focus their attention on 'one' state.

"If they did a more narrow ruling, it is possible they could confine their ruling to just California. In other words, just uphold it in California."

Rhodes says this is not a case the Supreme Court wants to deal with right now, because there isn't a strong majority of Americans supporting same-sex marriage, and the Roberts court is loath to put itself outside the mainstream of public opinion.

David Pitman, KUHF News.
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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...