SAN FRANCISCO (The Blaze/AP) -- The California Supreme Court is poised to release a decision that could prove pivotal to the future of the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
The court says it will file a written opinion Thursday morning clarifying whether the sponsors of ballot initiatives can defend their measures from legal challenges without the cooperation of the governor and attorney general.
A federal appeals court considering the constitutionality of the 2008 ban, known as Proposition 8, asked the state high court to weigh in on that question before it gets to the merits of the case. MercuryNews.com has more:
A 9th Circuit panel suggested in January that unless the state court determined that initiative sponsors have independent legal standing, it would have to dismiss the appeal and leave the lower court ruling overturning Proposition 8 in place without further scrutiny.
During oral arguments in September, however, the Supreme Court often leaned in favor of the ban's backers, who argued that the lawmaking power granted to citizens does not end once propositions have been approved or rejected by voters. Several justices noted that their court always had, as a matter of practice if not formal policy, allowed the sponsors of ballot questions to appear before it when their measures were challenged.
Once the Supreme Court voices its interpretation, the appeals court panel will have to decide whether to accept the court's guidance and if so, how to apply it to the ongoing legal skirmish involving Proposition 8. If the Supreme Court agrees the gay marriage ban's supporters should be allowed to represent the majority of voters who supported Proposition 8, it would clear the way for the 9th Circuit to analyze the substance of the appeal.
The 9th District has expressed doubts about the ability of Proposition 8's sponsors alone to challenge a lower court ruling that overturned the initiative. California's previous governor and attorney general both refused to appeal the decision.