According to a new Field Poll, registered voters in California now favor allowing same-sex marriage by a very wide margin — about 2-1, with 61% favoring SSM and 32% opposing it (+/- 3.5%). The report also indicates that Prop 8 was enacted somewhere near the time of the break point when more registered voters favored SSM it than opposed it. In the last 5 years, public opinion has gone from being evenly divided to being lopsidedly in favor of allowing SSM. The poll also reports that public opinion among registered voters in California under the age of 40 is even more lopsided: A whopping 78% percent favor allowing same-sex marriage.
Assuming that Supreme Court Justices are attuned to public opinion and the likely impact of their decisions, how might this cut in terms of the Supreme Court’s pending case on the constitutionality of Prop 8? If last year’s debate over the popularity of the Affordable Care Act provides any clues, each side will have its preferred lesson. For those who want the Supreme Court to strike down Prop 8, the poll shows that the Supreme Court can invalidate Prop 8 without causing a major backlash because the law has become very unpopular. For fans of judicial restraint, however, the poll shows that the Supreme Court doesn’t need to invalidate Prop 8 because California voters will almost certainly repeal it themselves.