The AP reports:
California's highest court agreed Wednesday to hear several legal challenges to the state's new ban on same-sex marriage but refused to allow gay couples to resume marrying before it rules.
The California Supreme Court accepted three lawsuits seeking to nullify Proposition 8, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that overruled the court's decision in May that legalized gay marriage.
All three cases claim the measure abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change....
The court directed [Attorney General Jerry] Brown and lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign[, who had joined the challengers in arguing that the court should consider the case,] to submit their arguments for why the ballot initiative should not be nullified by Dec. 19. It said lawyers for the plaintiffs, who include same-sex couples who did not wed before the election, must respond before Jan. 5. Oral arguments could be scheduled as early as March ...
I think it's good that the California Supreme Court agreed to decide the case, and get it resolved sooner rather than the later. It's important to know what the law is on this, especially given the likelihood that Prop. 8 invalidates same-sex marriages that had been entered into after the earlier court decision but before Prop. 8's enactment. I also think that the California Supreme Court will reject the state constitutional challenges to Prop. 8, and conclude that Prop. 8 amends the state constitution in a way that supersedes the court's interpretation of the preexisting constitutional provisions. (Here's my response to the "unconstitutional revision" argument, but I think the other arguments I've heard about are unlikely to prevail, either.)
Of course, Prop. 8 can't overrule any federal barriers to its enactment. I think there are no such federal barriers, but it's not as clear to me that the California Supreme Court will agree. [UPDATE: After a correction from Rick Hasen, I now think that the California Supreme Court is highly unlikely to reach this question, given the issues that it ordered briefed and argued.] And if the California Supreme Court invalidates Prop. 8 on federal constitutional grounds, for instance on the grounds that it's precluded by the Romer v. Evans decision or that the federal constitution bars discrimination against same-sex marriages, then the issue will be reviewable by the U.S. Supreme Court (and I think the U.S. Supreme Court will indeed agree to review it).
Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.
UPDATE: Rick Hasen (Election Law Blog) reports that, contrary to my suggestion, "it does not appear that an argument that the measure violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection is fairly before the court in its review." Reviewing the issues listed in the court's order granting a hearing leads me to think that Rick is likely right.
Rick also says, "It is also noteworthy that the California Supreme Court denied a stay request pending briefing in this case, with only Justice Moreno voting to grant a stay. That is some indication, though not necessarily a very strong one, that the court will vote to uphold Prop. 8 (the reason is that one of the factors in determining the grant of a stay is likelihood of success on the merits)."