The trial against California's Proposition 8 is set for January, but one of the measure's supporters went to a higher court, asking to be allowed to join the case.
It was an unusual setting for a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stanford University law school students got a look at the process involving one of the nation's highest profile cases. Lawyers representing a lesbian couple from Berkeley and a gay couple from Burbank have filed a lawsuit challenging Prop 8, passed by California voters one year ago which bans same-sex marriages. On the other side is Protect Marriage, the official sponsors of Prop 8.
However, another conservative group, Campaign For California Families, also wants to participate and a federal judge has ruled against that. On Wednesday, their lawyer argued the case before the higher court.
"The interest is defending the definition of marriage and families, but the Prop 8 proponents are primarily concerned with Prop 8 and not necessarily the broader picture," says Mathew Staver from the liberty counsel.
Two of the judges repeatedly questioned why his group needs to intervene when Protect Marriage essentially holds the same views.
"It is a matter of a different way of looking at the case, but... your ultimate objective is the same isn't it?" says 9the Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown.
The lawyer for the same-sex couples, Matthew McGill, asked the request be denied.
When asked what the difference would be if they were allowed to intervene, McGill said "It would cause delay and our clients are injured each and every day they are unable to be married."
ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson says it would be inappropriate to allow the third party group to join in.
"You would have to ask yourself, 'Do they add anything to the case in terms of representation, in terms of a particular perspective or knowledge?' And the answer is 'No, they don't,'" says Johnson.
The panel is expected to rule before the start of the trial which is scheduled for January.