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News Posted on February 14, 2012

Assoc. Dean Amar Comments on Prop. 8 for Media Including Los Angeles Times, KQED, KPCC, Sacramento Bee

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, commented on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling on California's Proposition 8 for media including public radio stations KQED and KPCC, the Los Angeles Times, and the Sacramento Bee.  In a narrow opinion purporting to apply to California only, the Ninth Circuit struck down the same-sex marriage ban, affirming a 2010 federal district court decision.

In an interview broadcast on KQED, Amar said that the narrow Ninth Circuit ruling may delay the expected Supreme Court hearing of the issue.  "If they'd written an opinion that struck down bans on gay marriage not just in California but in all the states covered by the Ninth Circuit, the Supreme Court would almost have to step in to resolve the matter one way or the other, because you would have had a very different federal rights regime west of the Rockies versus the rest of country," he said.  "But by limiting the ruling and the reasoning to California and to Proposition 8, the Ninth Circuit judges at least give the Supreme Court an excuse not to step in."

A delay could help same-sex marriage proponents, Amar said, because social attitudes appear to be shifting in favor of same-sex marriage, and more states are passing legislation to legalize it. "Whether the Supreme Court always admits it or not-and sometimes they do-federal constitutional rights are easier to defend when there is a broad or emerging national consensus on them."

Meanwhile, the initiative's supporters could ask for en banc review from the Ninth Circuit, and Amar told the Los Angeles Times it would make sense for ProtectMarriage to want "two bites of the apple."

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law with the UC Davis School of Law, is a national authority in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and remedies. His biweekly column for, a leading provider of online legal information, centers on his expertise in constitutional law.

KQED interview


Los Angeles Times

Sacramento Bee