17 November 2011 – Sacramento, California
The Supreme Court of California has announced its ruling in Perry v. Brown, the case concerning the legal standing issues involved in the controversial “Proposition 8” case, Perry v. Schwarzennegger. The Ninth Circuit had in January 2011 asked the Court to answer the following question:
“Whether under Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, or otherwise under California law, the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularized interest in the initiative’s validity or the authority to assert the State’s interest in the initiative’s validity, which would enable them to defend the constitutionality of the initiative upon its adoption or appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative, when the public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so.”
In a 61-page unanimous opinion issued on November 17, the Court’s conclusion was “that California law authorizes the official proponents, under such circumstances, to appear in the proceeding to assert the state’s interest in the initiative’s validity and to appeal a judgment invalidating the measure.
“Neither the governor, the attorney general, nor any other executive or legislative official has the authority to veto or invalidate an initiative measure that has been approved by the voters,” the decision said. “It would exalt form over substance to interpret California law in a manner that would permit these public officials to indirectly achieve such a result by denying the official initiative proponents the authority to step in to assert the state’s interest.”
While the ruling sets a state precedent for the citizens’ initiative process in California, its use as guidance by the Ninth Circuit in the appeal before it remains to be seen. While the backers of Proposition 8’s restriction of marriage in California to heterosexual couples see a victory in the ruling, attorneys for the Perry appellants seeking to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage are still confident of the success of their appeal.
For more information see the reports below.