Ninth circuit on Prop 8: Threading the needle

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The ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a lower court's decison overturning California's Proposition 8, will likely draw both condemnation and accolades, depending on one's position, but it's unclear if it will draw a Supreme Court ruling. (The L.A. Times has posted the opinion.) While both sides have vowed to take the fight to the Supremes, the ruling is so narrow that the Supreme Court may not take it up.

The 2-1 decision focused on the narrowest of issues: It argues, basically, that the majority can't strip rights gained by a minority without compelling reasons, and the court found none of "reasons" proffered by the defenders of Prop 8 rationally connected to same-sex marriage. Basing their decision on a 1996 Colorado ruling, the court did not find a "constitutional right" to same-sex marriage, just that a minority couldn't be stripped of a right they had been granted without a compelling state reason: "Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California," the court wrote.

The ruling is not expected to have much effect outside the state of California, since the ruling itself is tied up with Proposition 8 itself and its history in the state.