Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly known as Perry v. Brown and Perry v. Schwarzenegger)
A federal case challenging California’s discriminatory ballot measure, Prop 8, which eliminated same-sex couples’ right to marry in that state.
Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now known as Hollingsworth v. Perry) was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in May 2009, asking for a preliminary order blocking Prop 8. When California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to defend Prop 8 substantively, Judge Vaughn R. Walker allowed the initiative’s proponents to enter the case to defend it. Lambda Legal, NCLR and ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the preliminary hearing complementing plaintiffs’ briefing by explaining why Prop 8 should be held invalid regardless of the level of constitutional review.
At the preliminary injunction hearing Judge Vaughn R. Walker requested evidence on numerous important issues. After party counsel expressed a preference for a decision based only on legal arguments, Lambda Legal and co-counsel asked to intervene on behalf of three LGBT community organizations to present evidence of the diverse harms of marriage discrimination and expert testimony about antigay discrimination generally. After party counsel and the City and County of San Francisco offered to present similarly comprehensive evidence, Judge Walker denied the LGBT community groups’ intervention request. Lambda Legal and co-counsel continued to assist with trial preparation behind the scenes and as amicus.
- May 2009 Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies file Perry in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of two same-sex couples who had been denied a marriage license earlier that month.
- June 2009 Judge Vaughn R. Walker grants a motion to intervene by proponents of Prop 8 and declines to rule on a request by plaintiffs for an immediate injunction staying the marriage ban.
- July 2009 Judge Walker calls for presentation of evidence and factual findings following a trial on numerous important issues including the purported justifications for Prop 8 and the effects of the initiative for same-sex couples and their families, and for married, different-sex couples and their families. Counsel for plaintiffs and the intervenor-defendants (Prop 8's proponents) say the case instead should be resolved quickly in the district court based on legal briefs without evidentiary findings.
- July 2009 Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) ask permission to intervene on behalf of three LGBT community organizations with broad knowledge of the harms to same-sex couples and their families from marriage discrimination, and offer to present evidence about those harms and the other issues identified by Judge Walker.
- August 2009 Lawyers for the City and County of San Francisco also request permission to intervene to offer evidence similar to that proposed by plaintiffs' counsel. Party counsel on both sides offer evidence on the full range of issues, as requested by Judge Walker, and oppose the LGBT groups' motion to participate.
- August 2009 Judge Walker denies the LGBT groups intervention in the case. Lambda Legal continues to provide information and advice to plaintiffs’ counsel behind the scenes and remains as an amicus.
- January 2010 Trial begins.
- February 2010 LGBT Legal Groups submit friend-of-the-court brief, urging Court to strike Prop 8.
- August 2010 Victory! Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8, finding it violates due process and equal protection rights. Prop 8 defendants filed an immediate appeal of the decision.
- December 2010 Hearing before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- January 2011 Three-judge panel asks the California Supreme Court to clarify whether California law grants initiative proponents a particularized interest in the validity of a measure they put on the ballot that might entitle them to appeal a ruling that the measure is unconstitutional if state officials do not appeal.
- February 2011 California Supreme Court agrees to answer the question.
- March 2011 Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California and the ACLU of Northern California jointly file a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit supporting the plaintiffs' request that the Court allow same-sex couples to marry while the case is on appeal. The Court declines.
- April 2011 Prop 8 proponents file motion to vacate Judge Walker's ruling because he has been in a relationship with another man for 10 years.
- May 2011 Lambda Legal, NCLR, Equality California and the ACLU of Northern California file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to reject Prop 8 proponents' motion.
- June 2011 The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denies the motion to vacate, ruling that a judge's sexual orientation and relationship status do not disqualify him or her from hearing a case involving constitutional rights held by all individuals.
- September 2011 California Supreme Court hears oral argument on whether proponents have an interest in defending the initiative.
- November 2011 Lambda Legal and other LGBT rights organizations file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold the District Court decision rejecting Prop 8 proponents' motion to vacate Judge Walker's ruling.
- November 2011 California Supreme Court rules that, as a matter of state law, Prop 8 proponents have an interest in defending the initiative.
- December 2011 Ninth Circuit hears oral argument on whether to vacate the ruling striking down Prop 8.
- February 2012 Victory! Ninth Circuit upholds Judge Walker's August 2010 ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional, but on narrower grounds, applying only to California. Prop 8 backers ask the Ninth Circuit to have a larger panel of judges review the decision.
- June 2012 The Ninth Circuit denies Prop 8 backers' request to rehear the case.
- December 2012 The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.
- March 2013 The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case.
- June 2013 Victory! The U.S. Supreme Court rules that proponents of Prop 8 had no right to appeal the district court ruling. The freedom to marry resumes in California.
Brief of amici curiae ACLU Foundation of Northern California, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and National Center for Lesbian Rights (10/28/2011)