November 17, 2011

California Supreme Court decides that Prop 8 sponsors have standing to defend it.

The Court was responding to a state law question referred to it by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering whether the ban on same-sex marriage violates the federal Constitution.
The Supreme Court was emphatic that it would "undermine" the California ballot initiative process if the governor and attorney general can trump the voters by declining to defend such laws in the courts.

"The inability of the official proponents of an initiative measure to appeal a trial court judgment invalidating the measure, when the public officials who ordinarily would file such an appeal decline to do so, would significantly undermine the initiative power," Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the [unanimous] court....

"This frees up the 9th Circuit to go ahead and decide the constitutional issues on the merits," said Theodore Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General during the Bush administration. "We're anxious to get to a decision on the merits that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."
ADDED: Here's the California Supreme Court opinion (PDF). The California Supreme Court observes that the 9th Circuit saw the federal issue of standing as hinging on a state law question: whether "the official proponents of an initiative have authority under California law to assert the state‘s interest in the initiative measure‘s validity." The California Supreme Court's opinion stresses the nature of the initiative power, which was adopted "as one means of restoring the people‘s rightful control over their government":

The initiative power would be significantly impaired if there were no one to assert the state‘s interest in the validity of the measure when elected officials decline to defend it in court or to appeal a judgment invalidating the measure. Under article II, section 8 and the Elections Code, the official proponents of an initiative measure have a unique relationship to the voter-approved measure that makes them especially likely to be reliable and vigorous advocates for the measure and to be so viewed by those whose votes secured the initiative‘s enactment into law....

Thus, regardless of the initiative‘s effect on their personal and particularized legally protected interests, the official proponents are the most logical and appropriate choice to assert the state‘s interest in the validity of the initiative measure on behalf of the electors who voted in favor of the measure....

[E]ven though the official proponents of an initiative measure are not public officials the role they play in asserting the state‘s interest in the validity of an initiative measure in this judicial setting does not threaten the democratic process or the proper governance of the state, but, on the contrary, serves to safeguard the unique elements and integrity of the initiative process.

26 comments:

Revenant said...

I think Prop 8 is and was a dumb idea, but the court made the right call here.

Freeman Hunt said...

That seems logical.

Mr. Colby said...

OK, the idea that the US Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples may seem ludicrous on its face but...


OK, actually I've got nothing to complete that sentence with.

Coketown said...

I hope this gets settled soon, so Rosie O'Donnell goes back to being a cheerful, jolly woman instead of a venomous, bitter hag. I'm glad Ellen has remained cheerful throughout. She's always been my favorite lesbian.

murgatroyd666 said...

Whtever the merits of the arguments for and against Proposition 8, Jerry Brown (who's never identified by name in the news item) is a contemptible crapweasel.

Scott M said...

Ditto Revenant.

shake-and-bake said...

Seems lke the right result to me, and it should please proponents of same-sex marriage. The Ninth Circuit can now reach the merits of the constitutional issue. There will never be a better trial court record (from the perspective of those who oppose Prop. 8)than what was created in Judge Walker's courtroom to inform that determination.

Paul Zrimsek said...

After Judge Walker used the sponsors' internal communications as a proxy for the voting public's motives in approving the proposition, it would be awfully paradoxical if the court decided that the sponsors don't have enough to do with voting public's interest to qualify for standing.

Pogo said...

Our Weimar Republic is so goddamned boring.

You'd think the debauchery avant le déluge would be more fun, but I guess not.

edutcher said...

Well, God forbid the people have a say in what happens in their state.

The concept, as put forth by the CA Court, is all well and good, but, if Moonbeam, not unlike GodZero, doesn't want to fight the issue to the best of the State's ability, it still is throwing the game.

Eric said...

The Supreme Court was emphatic that it would "undermine" the California ballot initiative process if the governor and attorney general can trump the voters by declining to defend such laws in the courts.

This point always seemed self-evident to me. The whole point of passing something by initiative is to go around the legislature and the governor. If it's as unconstitutional as its supporters claim, they ought to be able to prevail on the merits of their case.

John said...

So what is the defense in favor of repealing Prop 8 going to be?

When they had the CA Supreme Court hearing I listened to the entire audio.

I thought the lawyer for the governor's office should have worn a bag over his head.

Their argument was that everything about prop 8 was Constitutional (CA constitution that is) but that it was a bad idea and the judges should find some way to overturn it anyway.

The fellow worked for Jerry Brown who was AG at the time.

Really pathetic.

If you do not believe my characterization of Brown's guy, you can listen to the audio of the hearings here.

It is pretty interesting.

http://easylink.playstream.com/aocstream/progressive/sct/sct_03052009.mp3?dl=true

Renee said...

Mr Colby,

California has already rationalized why marriage defined as a man and a woman, just look at their Child Support/Custody Guideline Page.

"An Introduction to Child Support Law and Guidelines

Because the moral basis for child support laws are so self-evident, they have not suffered questioning or debate; and, as a result, it has been possible for the state to formulate a standard equation (called a guideline) that, in all cases, determines who will pay child support and how much that child support will be. Simply, it balances the difference of each parent’s income against the difference in time that the children spend with each parent, while accounting for the number of children involved. (See the link at the end of this article for a child support calculator.)

Moral Basis of Child Support Laws:

Children should enjoy the financial security that a two-parent home would have afforded them.
A cause is responsible for its effect. In this case, biological parents are the cause that effects a child.
While the primary function of child support laws is to ensure that children are provided for, the principle of responsibility ensures that neither of the responsible parties is taken advantage of in the process, and the equation reflects this."

If child support is 'self-evident' when biological parents live apart to care for the needs of the child, then why is the legal purpose marriage not 'self-evident' to encourage a mother and father live together for the benefit of their children?

Opfor311 said...

If I remember correctly, didn't the 8th Circuit already reject the 14th Amendment argument in this case in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning? If the 9th Circus uphold the current ruling, does that mean there is a circuit split, and the Supreme Court will have to review the issue?

el polacko said...

@renee: because children are not a requirement for marriage...and gay citizens have the right to adopt. civil marriage is not just "for the children".

el polacko said...

this decision on standing is the best outcome for proponents of marriage equality. had it gone otherwise, the whole case couldhave been invalidated and gone back to square one. now, the 9th can continue toward validating the determination that the proposition is unconstitutional.

Chip S. said...

This makes three successive posts that cry out for a no shit, Sherlock tag.

Kirby Olson said...

There is no longer any universal logic to America. Darwin or St. Paul, or whatever.

shake-and-bake said...

Well, el polacko, the "whole case" would not have been invalidated. The State participated in the trial, but declined to appeal. So Judge Walker's opinion finding Prop. 8 unconstitutional would stand, unless and until it was reversed in another case.

Revenant said...

If child support is 'self-evident' when biological parents live apart to care for the needs of the child, then why is the legal purpose marriage not 'self-evident' to encourage a mother and father live together for the benefit of their children?

I don't think you understood what you quoted.

Biological parents are by default responsible for the child because the biological parents are solely responsible for the existence of the child. There is no such thing as a child without biological parents, and no such thing as biological parents without children.

In contrast, there is no direct relationship between marriage and children. You can have children without a legitimate marriage or have a legitimate marriage without children.

Revenant said...

Ironically, a court ruling upholding Prop 8 would probably be just the push needed to win support for a referendum overturning it. Which is the way things ought to be done anyway.

Simon said...

Surprising. Not the news that I expected—or that the Ninth Circuit panel expected. It was pretty clear that they were trying to wash their hands of it.

The Crack Emcee said...

If you don't have a lot of personal experience with liberal and "progressive" thought, I'd like to suggest a film called "The Kids Are Alright." It's a fictional movie about a lesbian family in Los Angeles - made by a lesbian - that is supposed to celebrate how normal they are but, instead, is a revealing expose of neurosis, with multiple acts of betrayal and cruelty.

You will hear lots of thought-stopping NewAge-y jargon, and the words "local" and "organic," thrown around a lot - as though they mean something beyond the speakers are clueless - but the most (unintentionally?) obvious feature will be the twisted ethical framework it presents. Don't let the cozy family-oriented poster for it fool you:

The kids - and the world the rest of us inhabit - are definitely NOT alright with these parents,...check it out - at the library. Do NOT give these people your money.

Revenant said...

Hollywood films are an accurate portrayal of family life and sexuality, are they? Interesting.

Alan said...

Well, the Prop 8 sponsors are part of the marriage contract, so of course they have standing. (Marriage is a contract between a couple and society - and, in some cultures, a contract between a man, his harem and society.)

gregq said...

Good for the CA State Supreme Court. I'm amazed that such an intelligent decision was unanimous.