Prop 8 sideline fight rages on

A sidelines skirmish over document production in the Proposition 8 lawsuit rages on this month, forcing the continued delay of closing arguments and, ultimately, a decision on the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage. And Ted Olson, the well-known conservative attorney leading the litigation against the ban, accused the ACLU and Yes on 8 proponents of “delaying the progress” of the trial.

The conflict involves a refusal by the ACLU and Equality California to turn over internal e-mails and memoranda to defendants in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. Last week, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed the groups’ appeal of an order to turn over the documents. The 9th Circuit said it did not have jurisdiction over the matter and could not review the controversy unless the groups’ defy the order, are found in contempt of court, and appeal the contempt order.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, the presiding judge in the Proposition 8 trial, urged the groups, the defendants, and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to try to reach a resolution on their own concerning document production. But in communications filed with the district court on Thursday, April 22, all sides agreed that they had not been able to reach a resolution.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs challenging the California law complained to Judge Walker that the ACLU and Yes on 8 supporters “are delaying the progress of this case” and urged him to move quickly to find the ACLU and Equality California in contempt so that their anticipated appeal of the contempt order can proceed.

In his statement to Judge Walker Thursday, Olson said that, “While Plaintiffs cannot stop the ACLU from choosing to go into contempt, the Ninth Circuit’s order makes clear that such a tactic and any subsequent appeal would be futile.”

The conflict over document production emerged halfway through the three-week-long trial on Proposition 8 held in January.

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