SAN FRANCISCO (EWTN News)—Advocates of Proposition 8 can defend California’s traditional-marriage law in federal court, state supreme court judges ruled Nov. 17.
“This ruling is a huge disaster for the homosexual-marriage extremists” and “an enormous boost for Proposition 8 as well as the integrity of the initiative process itself,” ProtectMarriage.com announced after the ruling.
Thursday’s decision allows ProtectMarriage.com, sponsors of the 2008 initiative that defined marriage as a relationship of one man and one woman, to defend the law in federal court after California’s governor and attorney general refused to argue for its validity.
“In a post-election challenge to a voter-approved initiative measure,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, expressing the court’s unanimous ruling, “the official proponents of the initiative are authorized under California law to appear and assert the state‘s interest in the initiative‘s validity … when the public officials who ordinarily defend the measure or appeal such a judgment decline to do so.”
It is “essential to the integrity of the initiative process,” the chief justice said, “that there be someone to assert the state’s interest in an initiative’s validity on behalf of the people,” if public officials refuse to argue for the law.
Opponents of the marriage law had argued that the initiative’s sponsors could not step in to defend the law in federal court. The sponsors of Proposition 8, they said, had no direct stake in the court case that will decide whether it is constitutional.
But California’s Supreme Court justices disagreed in a ruling they said was “unrelated to the constitutional validity of Proposition 8.”
The legal question at hand, they noted, “involves a fundamental procedural issue that may arise with respect to any initiative measure” on any subject.
The judges sided with ProtectMarriage.com attorney Andy Pugno, who had warned against the prospect of public officials gaining effective “veto power” over measures passed on a popular vote.
“The California Constitution reserves this special power for proponents to draft and qualify and propose initiatives for the voters to vote on,” Pugno told EWTN News in September, after his organization made its case before the state’s high court.
“And if it’s passed and then it’s challenged in court, and the government basically says, ‘We give up,’ then, really, that has nullified or even vetoed all the efforts of the proponents who played an official role in sponsoring the initiative.”
In their Nov. 17 ruling, the justices voiced the same concern.
“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,” they stated.
It would be unreasonable, the justices said, to “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 in the validity of the measure … when those public officials decline to assert that interest or to appeal an adverse judgment.”
Pugno has stated that the move to stop Proposition 8 from being defended in federal court “really signals some desperation” on the part of homosexual activists, who appeared to be “willing to throw the entire initiative power of the people itself out the window, just to achieve their goal” of redefining marriage.
In its Nov. 17 statement on the ruling, ProtectMarriage.com said the court had “totally rejected” the demand of those activists, “that their lawsuit to invalidate Proposition 8 should win by default with no defense.”
“Their entire strategy relied on finding a biased judge and keeping the voters completely unrepresented,” Proposition 8’s sponsors said. “Today that all crumbled before their eyes.”
The marriage law’s proponents say they will now return their focus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There, they seek to reverse a lower-court decision they have criticized for “declaring Proposition 8 and traditional marriage itself ‘unconstitutional.’”