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Hollingsworth v. Perry

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 26, 2013
Case #: 12-144
Roberts, C.J., delivered the Court’s opinion, which Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a dissenting opinion which Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-144_8ok0.pdf

Standing: Official proponents of a ballot measure do not have a “personal stake” in the enforcement of the measure after the measure has been passed and enacted into law. Also, official proponents of ballot measures do not have a particularized interest sufficient to cause a case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.

California initiative measure Proposition 8, amended the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a woman and man, which reversed a California Supreme Court ruling that allowed for same-sex couples to get married. Petitioners are the official proponents of Proposition 8. Respondents are a same-sex couple who wish to get married in California. Respondent’s filed a suit against several California state officials, citing that Proposition 8 violated Due Process, the Equal Protection Clause, and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the California Supreme Court case, the California state officials refused to defend Proposition 8 so the court allowed the Petitioners to intervene in the case to defend Proposition 8. The lower courts found that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and the California officials were enjoined from enforcing Proposition 8. The California officials chose not to appeal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, but the Petitioners decided to appeal the decision.  

The Court held that official proponents of a ballot measure do not have a “personal stake” in the enforcement of the measure after it has been passed and enacted into law. Subsequently, official proponents do not have a particularized interest sufficient to cause a case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.  While the Court recognized California’s sovereign right to maintain an initiative system, standing in federal courts is a matter of federal law, not state law. Despite the reasons a State may give parties standing to seek relief they cannot alter federal standing requirements. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judgment is vacated and remanded for dismissal due to lack of jurisdiction.