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Expert Alert

Proposition 8 goes to California Supreme Court

March 2, 2009

On Thursday March 5, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a statewide ballot initiative that was passed by a majority of California voters in November. University of Minnesota experts available to discuss the case are:
 
Paula O'Loughlin, University of Minnesota, Morris political science professor
There's a lot going on here says O'Loughlin. Voters are up and paying attention to this issue on both sides so its dicey for elected officials in California and elsewhere, she says. It's a lot like abortion which means compromise is not likely to happen. At the same time, on the national political scene, while President Obama doesn't want this to be in the headlines, Republicans are rallying around it in an attempt to mobilize their forces. At the U of M, Morris O'Loughlin has researched anti-gay initiatives and California's initiative process.
 
Dale Carpenter, University of Minnesota Law School professor 
The case raises very difficult and controversial questions about whether a fundamental right (marriage) can be denied to a single group of people (same-sex couples) by a simple majority vote. Under the California Constitution, such an important change may constitute a revision requiring prior two thirds approval from the state legislature. There is no prior
judicial decision that directly addresses this issue, Carpenter says. If Prop 8 is struck down, same-sex marriage will immediately be secured in a state with tremendous cultural, political and legal influence on the rest of the country, he says.
 
Edward Schiappa, University of Minnesota Communication Studies professor
Schiappa is an expert on legal argumentation who has studied the U.S. Supreme Court reasoning on gay rights for 20 years. If the Court decides that Prop 8 is an amendment, Prop 8 will survive the challenge, Schiappa says. If the Court determines that it is a significant revision, Prop 8 will be struck down because it violates equal protection just as Amendment 2 in Colorado did some years ago, he says. Schiappa predicts that the Court will overturn Prop 8, but whatever they decide will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sets the stage for the next act of this continuing drama, especially with U.S. Justice Ginsberg being ill and the Democrats still vulnerable to a Senate filibuster.
 
Kathleen Hull, University of Minnesota sociology professor

Hull is an expert on same-sex marriage. In Hull's new book, Same-Sex Marriage: The Cultural Politics of Love and Law, she explores what marriage means to gays and lesbians in the United States. In her earlier book, "The Cultural Politics of Same-Sex Marriage," Hull examines same-sex marriage as both a cultural and a political/legal phenomenon. 

To interview one of these experts, contact the University News Service, (612) 624-5551.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts, Law School

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