Hollingsworth v. Perry Case Brief

Facts of the case

In 2000, the citizens of California passed Proposition 22, which affirmed a legal understanding that marriage was a union between one man and one woman. In 2008, the California Supreme Court held that the California Constitution required the term marriageto include the union of same-sex couples and invalidated Proposition 22. Later in 2008, California citizens passed Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized by California.The respondents, a gay couple and a lesbian couple, sued the state officials responsible for the enforcement of California’s marriage laws and claimed that Proposition 8 violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law. When the state officials originally named in the suit informed the district court that they could not defend Proposition 8, the petitioners, official proponents of the measure, intervened to defend it. The district court held that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.


The U.S. Supreme Court held that the proponents lacked standing under U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. The proponents had no direct stake in the outcome of their appeal. Their only interest was to vindicate the constitutional validity of a generally applicable California law, which was insufficient to confer standing. The role that California law gave the proponents in the initiative process did not give them a personal stake in defending its enforcement that differed from the general interest of every California citizen.

  • Advocates: Charles J. Cooper for the petitioners Theodore B. Olson for the respondents Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the respondents
  • Petitioner: Dennis Hollingsworth, et al.
  • Respondent: Kristin Perry, et al.
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Citation: 570 US 693 (2013)
Granted: Dec 7, 2012
Argued: Mar 26, 2013
Decided: Jun 26, 2013
Hollingsworth v. Perry Case Brief