Prop 8 sponsors are entitled to defend it in court if state refuses


Via The LA Times:

The California Supreme Court decided Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court when the state refuses to do so, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups, sets the stage for a federal ruling — which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — that would affect marriage bans outside California.
[…]
Although the 9th Circuit is not bound by Thursday’s ruling, the decision makes it less likely that the appeals court would decide Proposition 8’s future on narrow, standing grounds.

Those “State Rights” Republicans had better get on denouncing these Activist Judges™ going around reinterpreting the Constitution to suit their moral views. You know, lest they look like hypocrites. Not that they’d care — if it’s anti-gay, it’s A-OK.

Comments

  1. fastlane says

    Given their (Prop8 supporters) performance in the initial trial, I would count this as a win for gay rights. =)

  2. says

    California is in for a world of trouble (in short, they’re effed) if any old crackpot can now claim to represent the state in court anytime the actual state representatives don’t do the bidding of the crackpot.

  3. danielrudolph says

    You don’t want a system where the state can just punt if they don’t like a law. This strikes me as the only viable ruling. This issue only comes up if a law already exists and is being challenged on constitutional grounds and the state declines to defend it. It’s hardly a recipe for wingnuts to tie up the courts by filing suits on the state’s behalf.

  4. Nentuaby says

    Could there have been any other ruling? SOMEBODY has to represent the law in court for the system to work at all, we’ve got an adversarial system. If the state isn’t willing to take that role, letting an interested third party do it is only appropriate.

    It’s hardly a surprise that it was ruled that way this time, either; it’d already been ruled that way in lower courts and there was no real reason to believe it’d be reversed.

    Anyway, as a queer activist I strongly disagree that this ruling is anti-gay. It’s pro-functioning-civil-government. Oppressed minorities do not gain from making the courts more arbitrary or taking important checks off the Executive.

    … also, fastlane is entirely correct. :)

  5. says

    Anyway, as a queer activist I strongly disagree that this ruling is anti-gay.

    The whole thing has been anti-gay from the beginning. Now we have a genuine hate-group defending the state of California! That is most certainly an anti-gay ruling!

  6. Nentuaby says

    Aratina, Prop 8 is anti-gay, but this isn’t a ruling on Prop 8. It’s a ruling on standing doctrine– one that says the Executive cannot arbitrarily override the Legislature by forcing the Judiciary to void a law by default. That’s a good thing for us. There are far more people out there who would love to use judicial chicanery of the sort the opposite decision would have allowed for evil than would use it for good.

    Prop 8 is still just as much on the hook after this ruling as it ever was. This decision does not uphold it, it simply sets how arguments on it will be received. It will be consigned to the dust bin of history on its own merits soon enough.

  7. says

    My chief concern is that instead of the state defending what it put into laws, now just any old crank can defend a law that it managed to get rammed through via ballot measures. And since money buys ballot measures, a lot of very onerous stuff is going to become law, then get defended in court from the de facto “state position” by assholes like the Mormons who have a lot of money, and can hire very good teams of lawyers.

    Hopefully that will make the “dust bin of history” a little less easy for these horrible ideas to crawl back out of, once they’re smashed thoroughly and put there. These anti-gay propositions are worse than comic book supervillains for their resurrection under flimsy pretenses, though.

  8. Timberwoof says

    I have to agree that debating the law in court is the right way to go.

    I lived in Colorado during the early ’90s when the infamous Amendment 2 was passed by voters and made its way through the court system. At every step along the way, it was overturned. Governor Roy Romer did not agree with the law, but the state Attorney General defended it in Denver District Court, the Colorado Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. The law received a thorough defense … and a thorough thrashing by opposition lawyers and judges. The SCOTUS ruling made all similar laws across the United States unconstitutional and paved the way for overturning sodomy laws.

    With this procedural ruling, Proposition 8 will similarly get a proper hearing. The work is not done and the stakes are higher, but ultimately this case, along with all other significant fundamental advancements in civil rights in the US, will be tried in the Supreme Court. Judge Vaughn Walker’s opinion is well-written and does not show prejudice. It will not easily be overruled.

    The reason that the Prop 8 proponents don’t want the trial videos to be released is that everyone will see how poorly they presented their case, and how different the case they presented in court was from what they said in the political campaign.

    It sounds like an anti-gay position, but I feel that a proper trial is needed, all the way to the Supreme Court. The only way to get there is through this ruling.

  9. crissakentavr says

    You don’t want a system where the state can just punt if they don’t like a law. This strikes me as the only viable ruling.

    Actually, no. I think this more opens up the opportunity for the state to shirk at defending laws it does not like – because the law would not go undefended. Right now, the state has to defend it through its own courts. But if any ol’ crank or moneypot can do it, then the state can shirk – whether or not there’s an actual moneypot to defend it.

    This is in exact opposite position of established court precedence which states that someone has to actually be impacted by the law specifically, monetarily, before they have standing to defend or strike down a law.

  10. Omega says

    The way I heard it explained is this, Prop 8 lost in California courts. The governator declined to appeal to the Federal Circuit so some pro-prop 8 group took up the appeal. The Federal court decided that they would not hear the appeal until California courts decided whether or not the group even had the right to appeal (standing). The California court decided that since the law was introduced due to a ballot initiative (i.e the public “wanted” it) that a group of citizens do indeed have standing in this case.
    It is not as other’s have stated a judgement on Prop 8 itself and I don’t think it opens the door to any crackpot launching court actions against laws they like/hate.

  11. says

    Aratina, Prop 8 is anti-gay, but this isn’t a ruling on Prop 8. It’s a ruling on standing doctrine– one that says the Executive cannot arbitrarily override the Legislature by forcing the Judiciary to void a law by default.

    No, the legislature was not involved in PropH8. That’s the actual problem. PropH8 bypassed the legislature entirely. The legislature had actually passed a marriage equality bill twice (vetoed both times by Scwharzenegger). The California Supreme Court has consistently maintained an anti-gay stance throughout the affair, starting with its invalidating the marriages of families wed by Gavin Newsom on Valentine’s Day 2004. Now they hand over the power of the state to a hate group, ProtectMarriage!

  12. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Those “State Rights” Republicans had better get on denouncing these Activist Judges™ going around reinterpreting the Constitution to suit their moral views.

    When conservatives whine about “activist judges” and “legislating from the bench” what they actually mean is “some judge made a decision we don’t like.”

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