Attorney general believes Prop. 8 unconstitutional despite ruling
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said Thursday that she still believes Proposition 8 is unconstitutional following a state Supreme Court decision that said sponsors of the anti-same-sex marriage initiative are entitled to defend the measure because the state refuses to do so.
“This ruling now shifts the litigation to the federal court of appeals,” Harris said in her statement. “I firmly believe that Proposition 8 violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and am confident that justice will prevail."
The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court when the state refuses to do so, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
State officials are entitled to champion ballot measures in court, but the governor and the attorney general have refused to defend Proposition 8.
The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups, sets the stage for a federal ruling that would affect marriage bans outside California that would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering an appeal of a trial judge’s ruling that overturned Proposition 8, had asked the California court to clarify whether state law gives initiative sponsors standing, or legal authority, to defend their measures.
Although the 9th Circuit is not bound by Thursday’s ruling, the decision makes it less likely that the appeals court would decide Proposition 8’s future on narrow, standing grounds. Legal experts believe that the case will ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, which would decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
-- Maura Dolan
Photo: California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press