California AG Denies Voters Standing in Court

Official "Vote NO on Prop 8" logo

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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.

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