The California Supreme Court has ruled that proponents of Proposition 8 do have standing to appeal Federal District Judge Walker Vaughn’s ruling declaring the anti-gay marriage initiative unconstitutional, even if state officials refuse to take up the matter. The Ninth Circuit appeals court, which is hearing the appeal of Vaughn’s decision, asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in on the standing issue and will take its ruling under consideration. However, as Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner points out, “the appeals court could call for additional briefing and/or oral arguments following the California Supreme Court decision.”
Allowing official proponents to assert the state‘s interest in the validity of the initiative measure in such litigation (along with any public officials who may also be defending the measure) (1) assures voters who supported the measure and enacted it into law that any residual hostility or indifference of current public officials to the substance of the initiative measure will not prevent a full and robust defense of the measure to be mounted in court on the people‘s behalf, and (2) ensures a court faced with the responsibility of reviewing and resolving a legal challenge to an initiative measure that it is aware of and addresses the full range of legal arguments that reasonably may be proffered in the measure‘s defense. In this manner, the official proponents‘general ability to appear and defend the state‘s interest in the validity of the initiative measure and to appeal a lower court judgment invalidating the measure serves to enhance both the fairness of the judicial process and the appearance of fairness of that process.