Friday, April 3, 2009

will the Iowa decision effect the pending California decision?

No. Iowa will have no effect on the California decision because it's a totally different legal question. The ruling Iowa made today is the same one that California made a year ago - and for the same legal reasons - the state's constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. You might contend that Iowa was influenced by California, (although the California decision is not referenced in the Iowa ruling) but not the other way.

The current case in California does not concern marriage itself. Instead it's the separate question of whether Propostion 8 was a "revision" of the constitution (in which case it would be thrown out for not following the correct legal path for adoption) or was it merely an "amendment" (in which case it would stand). When the California court releases it's decision (by June) it will not re-examine the merits of same-sex marriage per se. It will only examine the question of distinguishing constitutional revisions from amendments.

On the other hand, on the other side of the country, it is very likely that the Iowa decision will effect the Vermont state legislature's action of overturning the promised veto from Governor Douglas of their own marriage equality law. Although the Iowa decision has no legal standing in Vermont, the success in Iowa will undoubtedly create momentum on the marriage equality side that might have the effect of pushing a few waffling legislators into the pro-marriage camp. We only need a few additional votes to overturn the veto so there's a good chance that Vermont might be the first state to achieve marriage equality through legislative process rather than Judicial mandate.

1 comment:

Robin Edgar said...

That is interesting Ricky. U*U blogger Bill Baar suggested that celebration of the decision Iowa's Supreme Court is premature because the Iowa court decision would result in a public backlash and a constitutional situation similar to Prop 8, precisely because the decision was through a judicial mandate rather than through the legislative process, but if this court decision does influence the legislative process in Vermont it may mitigate that possibility. Do you care to share your well reasoned thoughts about that scenario?