California Supremes keep Ninth Circuit Prop 8 appeal alive

The California Supreme Court’s much-anticipated opinion in Perry v. Brown was filed this morning. The court unanimously found that the Prop 8 proponents, who have a pending Ninth Circuit appeal from the federal district court decision finding the law unconstitutional, have standing to defend the law in court when the state attorney general refuses to do so. Answering certification of that question from the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court concludes its long (61-page) decision with an unequivocal “yes”:

In response to the question submitted by the Ninth Circuit, we conclude, for the reasons discussed above, that when the public officials who ordinarily defend a challenged state law or appeal a judgment invalidating the law decline to do so, under article II, section 8 of the California Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Elections Code, the official proponents of a voter-approved initiative measure are authorized to assert the state‘s interest in the initiative‘s validity, enabling the proponents to defend the constitutionality of the initiative and to appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative.

As a result of the decision, Prop 8 proponents will be able to proceed with their appeal in the Ninth Circuit, where the proponents’ appeal has been hanging by a thread since the Ninth Circuit certified its question to the California Supreme Court last January, acknowledging that the appeal would have to be dismissed if the Prop 8 proponents lacked standing to defend the law.

Related post at Ninth Circuit Blog of Appeals.