Chief Justice Ronald M. George: The Most Notable Opinions


For the final day of our profile of retiring California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, we offer our own subjective list of the Chief Justice’s most notable opinions. If anyone has a nomination for a favorite case that belongs on this list – and there are many important opinions that aren’t here – explain in the comments section.

In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008) – Reversing the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court held that provisions of the Family Code defining marriage as between a man and a woman violated the fundamental constitutional right to marry of all Californians. This was so for several reasons: (1) the exclusion of gay couples from the designation of marriage was not necessary to afford full protection to the rights and benefits accorded opposite-sex couples; (2) denying the designation "marriage" to same-sex couples would impose appreciable harm on such couples and their children; (3) denying same-sex couples the designation of "marriage" would be perceived as reflecting an official view that such relationships are of lesser dignity, and that same-sex couples and gay individuals are in some respects "second-class citizens."

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