Prop 8 proponents lose pre-closing skirmish

Closing arguments get underway Wednesday in the Proposition 8 case in California, and attorneys representing the various officials who campaigned for the ban on same-sex marriage were just dealt another blow.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker issued an order Friday denying their request to strike from the evidence certain emails that demonstrate how heavily involved Catholic and Mormon church officials were in the Yes on 8 campaign.

The evidence is not necessarily critical as a legal matter. There are many grounds on which Walker can decide the fate of the anti-same-sex marriage law without considering anti-gay religious-based sentiment. But the denial does create a public record that could be embarrassing to Catholic and Mormon church officials. Those officials, particularly with the Mormon Church, have been eager to keep their participation private.

But Walker said the First Amendment does not protect an email from disclosure “simply because it was intended to be private.” The First Amendment, in the context of an initiative campaign, he said, protects those communications between individuals who make up a formal group, not communications between individuals in various groups.

Closing arguments begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific, time Wednesday and are expected to conclude that afternoon. Plaintiffs attorney Ted Olson said he believes Walker could issue a decision “within weeks.”

5 Responses to Prop 8 proponents lose pre-closing skirmish

  1. John says:

    Thanks Lisa. You have consistently provided the best coverage! This is a great decision! And it certainly gives us a bit to think about as we express our opinions and reveal our motives in email. It’s relevant evidence that should not be stricken from the record in matters of public interest – especially where people inject themselves into a controversy in order to effect it’s outcome – they act as ‘public figures’ if only for a limited purpose. In that sense it’s a classic First Amendment no-brainer and I don’t see how the judge could have decided otherwise.

    Thanks again for your excellent contribution!

  2. Those documents were uncovered by the makers of 8: The Mormon Proposition, the documentary film which exposes the Mormon and Catholic involvement. The film is released June 18th in a city near you and on Movie on Demand the same day. Check their website for details.

  3. […] 12. If the evidence of the involvement of the LDS and Roman Catholic churches and evangelical ministers supports a finding that Proposition 8 was an attempt to enforce private morality, what is the import of that finding? (Is Walker covering his bases? Or looking for an eventual Supreme Court ruling to include an examination of First Amendment rights? Also, see: “Prop 8 proponents lose pre-closing skirmish“) […]

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