The California Supreme Court has issued a ruling that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court when the state refuses to do so.
Accordingly, we respond to the question posed by the Ninth Circuit in the affirmative. In a postelection challenge to a voter-approved initiative measure, the official proponents of the initiative are authorized under California law to appear and assert the state‘s interest in the initiative‘s validity and to appeal a judgment invalidating the measure when the public officials who ordinarily defend the measure or appeal such a judgment decline to do so.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors standing, or legal authority, to defend their measures. The Ninth Circuit also indicated in a hearing last December that it was leaning toward overturning Proposition 8 if the standing question could be resolved. But now with the California Supreme Court decision its back to the Ninth Circuit to decide but they are not bound by Thursday’s ruling, and the decision makes it less likely that the appeals court would decide Proposition 8’s future on narrow, standing grounds thus delaying same sex marriage in California even longer as the case makes its way to the Supreme Court for judgement.
Matt Baume with the American Foundation for Equal Rights explains another possibilty below.