Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

(San Francisco, CA, February 16, 2011)—Today, the California Supreme Court agreed to accept the question sent to it last month from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the federal court challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stripped the freedom to marry from same-sex couples in the state.

On January 4, 2011, the Ninth Circuit panel asked California’s highest court to clarify whether California law gives ballot initiative sponsors the extraordinary power to override the decisions of elected state officials about how to litigate cases involving challenged state laws. The underlying question is whether the proponents of Prop 8 can force an appeal of the federal district court decision holding that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

The California Supreme Court agreed today to answer that question. All briefs will be submitted by May 2011, and oral arguments could be as soon as September 2011.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“The people of California elect a governor and an attorney general to decide when and how to defend a constitutional initiative. We are confident that the California Supreme Court will conclude that initiative sponsors do not have the right to override our elected leaders and independently defend an initiative or decide whether or not to appeal a decision holding an initiative unconstitutional. The California Supreme Court should act quickly to confirm that California’s elected officials, not private groups or interested individuals, represent the state’s interests in court.”

read analysis by Senior Staff Attorney Chris Stoll, Esq.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.