The following editorial appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, March 27:
The Supreme Court's surprise ruling on health care reform last June should give judicial observers pause before drawing any conclusions from the court's arguments Tuesday on California's Proposition 8.
That said, the justices' line of questioning offers hope for supporters of gay marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts immediately questioned whether the proponents of Proposition 8 even had the legal right, or standing, to appeal San Francisco federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that struck down the ban on same-sex marriage. It may prove to be the essential question of the case.
The Supreme Court could rule that only Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris or other state officials have the standing to defend the ban, which they have refused to do. If the court is looking to avoid a sweeping and potentially polarizing ruling on gay marriage, it could let Walker's ruling stand and allow gay marriage to resume in California.
We would welcome such a ruling. But we would prefer a simple but broad declaration that all American gays and lesbians have an equal right to marry that is basic to constitutional principles.
Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Proposition 8, again struggled to offer a rational case for treating gays and lesbians differently on the issue of marriage, as opposed to the workplace. It's understandable. He has no winning argument. Gay marriage would strengthen America, not threaten it.
Cooper's silly assertion that it is in the state's interest to defend responsible procreation seemed to fall flat with the justices, with good reason.
The justices have multiple options for how to rule in this case, but if they don't want to be embarrassed in the history books, they must take a stand for equality and end California's discrimination against gays and lesbians.