The California Supreme Court sided with the Initiative Process today.
The California Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision today validating that the Proposition 8 supporters do have standing to appeal the decision by Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker declaring the proposition invalid because it violates the California and US Constitution. By upholding the right of the losing side in that Federal case to take their appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit, the court was not taking a position on the merits of the appeal but acting on the important procedural principle that when state officials decline to defend a law passed by the voters that the proponents of the initiative petition in question may act for the state in doing so.
To decide the matter otherwise would have sent a chilling message to the people of California that their votes don’t matter in initiative petitions if the Governor and Attorney General do not favor the measure in question. The Supreme Court reasoned that was not the intent of the people in permitting the initiative and referendum in the California Constitution.
That the court decided the matter unanimously sent a clear message to state elected officials that they do not get to pick and choose the laws they like, but have a duty to defend the laws unless and until the question of the validity of the measure is finally resolved.
It was a prudent and common sense decision.
Now the parties can argue the matter of Proposition 8 on its merits and no matter what the final outcome may be all will know they got a fair hearing on those merits and were not denied their appellate rights by a procedural trick by politicians seeking to substitute their personal views for those of the voters.
- What Is Prop 8? Gay Marriage Opponents Win California High Court Victory (abcnews.go.com)
- Prop 8: California Supreme Court says Amendment Proponents Do Have Standing to Appeal (pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com)
- California Supreme Court to decide Proposition 8 issue Thursday (mercurynews.com)
- Supreme Court rules Prop 8 supporters can defend the law (mercurynews.com)
- CA Supreme Court Issues Prop 8 Standing Ruling (bilerico.com)
I didn’t vote for Proposition 8 but it passed anyway. The battle over California’s Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage is working its way through the courts. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the case but now are wondering who will represent California in the matter after proponents of Prop 8 filed a petition for standing. The 9th Circuit asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether voters who favor the ballot proposition have standing in the case.
So what’s the big deal?
It may sound logical that voters would be able to be heard in the matter, but in her amicus brief to the California Supreme Court, Attorney General Kamala Harris said that only public officials exercising the executive power of government have authority to represent the state when laws passed by voters or the Legislature are challenged.
This case is messy because former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and now current Governor Jerry Brown refused to appeal Federal District Court judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Proposition 8 as a violation of civil rights. Unless an appeal is made in the case, Judge Walker’s decision will stand by default despite the fact that a majority of California voters approved the ballot measure.
Proponents of Proposition 8 cry foul! They accuse the state’s elected leaders of failing in their duty to defend the laws of the state. They say that failure by the State officers to act in this case should give them standing to defend the law themselves.
So the big deal is that California’s elected officials have decided to sit on their hands and not file an appeal of Judge Walker’s decision because they don’t support Prop 8 notwithstanding the inconvenient truth that it was approved by the voters. By sending the matter back to the California courts, the US Court of Appeals is effectively saying California needs to be represented by SOMEONE so who will it be, folks?
The Supreme Court should allow citizen standing in the case because of failure to act by state executive officials. To do otherwise makes a mockery of the initiative and referendum process and undermines the rule of law.
Both the proponents and opponents of Proposition 8 deserve an expeditious resolution in this case. To taint that decision by allowing elected officials to selectively support the laws they like and ignore the ones they do not like would be a miscarriage of justice on top of the malfeasance in office they already have committed by playing games of political correctness instead of doing their job.
- Proposition 8 backers: Gay judge’s ruling should be thrown out – CNN International (news.google.com)
- California AG Harris Argues Against Standing of Prop 8 Sponsors (towleroad.com)
- Calif AG: Prop 8 backers can’t defend marriage ban (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- California AG Kamala Harris Files Brief- Proponents of Prop 8 have No Representative Authority … (lezgetreal.com)
- California Judge’s Partner Cited in Push to Uphold Same-Sex Marriage Ban – Fox News (news.google.com)