When the nine Supreme Court justices retreat behind closed doors Friday for their regularly scheduled conference, they will consider the issue of gay marriage and decide whether to take up a case that could ultimately determine whether there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

At issue is Proposition 8, the controversial 2008 California ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It passed with 52 percent of the vote.

A divided three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February struck down "Prop 8," ruling that it "serves no purpose , and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."