The Supremes Take the Initiative

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.


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