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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Prop. 8 Backers File Brief With State High Court

(CN) - The proponents behind the ban on gay marriage in California, which was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in August 2010, filed a brief with the state Supreme Court on Monday defending their standing on appeal.

The California Supreme Court interceded last month in the appeal before the 9th Circuit. The federal appeals court judges had said in January that they were unsure how to proceed with the appeal since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state Attorney General Jerry Brown, recently sworn in as California's 39th governor, would not defend Proposition 8 or appeal a federal judge's ruling that found the voter initiative was unconstitutional.

ProtectMarriage.com, the Sacramento-based conservative legal group behind Prop. 8, had previously petitioned the courts to force Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to appeal the landmark ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Both the state Supreme Court in September 2010 and an appellate court rejected the bid without explanation.

In light of the refusal of state officials to defend the voter-approved law, the groups that sponsored the gay marriage ban have the right to act in the interest of California's citizens who voted Proposition 8 into law in November 2008.

"The official proponents of an initiative have authority under California law to assert the People's interest in the validity of that initiative when it is challenged in litigation, at least when public officials refuse to defend it," according to the 47-page brief, which was filed by a coalition of legal groups led by Charles Cooper with Cooper & Kirk and Brian Raum with the Alliance Defense Fund. "California's interest in the validity of its initiatives belongs not to the public officials the initiative process was intended to control, but to the people themselves."

The 9th Circuit is currently mulling a request by Proposition 8 challengers and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to lift the ban and allow gay and lesbian couples to resume marrying in California pending the outcome of this appeal.

According to the expedited briefing schedule arranged by the California Supreme Court, oral arguments are scheduled for September.

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