September 6, 2011
By Adam Bink
A collection of coverage and responses (some via e-mail):
Shannon Minter of the Nat’l Center for Lesbian Rights, who along with his colleague Chris Stoll previously stopped by to answer Prop 8 legal questions from the Prop8TrialTracker community (you can find the transcripts here and here, they are incredibly informative if you have legal questions about where the case heads from here), and who argued the original In re marriage cases before the CA Supreme Court, wrote:
I was concerned by the tenor of many of the justices’ questions today. The court has a responsibility to enforce the California Constitution, which gives elected state officials—not private initiative sponsors—the authority to decide whether to appeal a federal court decision invalidating a state law. Both conservative and progressive elected officials have occasionally exercised that discretion in the past by choosing not to expend state resources to defend invalidated measures. Permitting special interest groups to usurp that decision-making authority would dramatically change the current law and take a giant step down the road of turning California into a mobocracy. I was disappointed that, with some notable exceptions, too many of the court’s questions today did not address the specific legal questions before them, but rather seemed to glorify the initiative process in the abstract and to abdicate a searching examination of the California Constitution in favor of emotional appeals to “the people.” The initiative process is already frequently misused to target vulnerable groups, due in part to the Court’s past reluctance to enforce any meaningful limits on the process, even when those limits are mandated by the California Constitution. I sincerely hope the Court does not compound that mistake by now giving initiative proponents an unprecedented new power to step outside of their proper legislative role and usurp the power that our Constitution gives only to elected state officials in the executive branch.
NCLR’s Kate Kendell also commented:
It would be an unthinkable blow to California’s democratic system of government if the handful of individuals who sponsored Prop 8 could make decisions for the entire state. Today’s arguments raised critical questions affecting the future of all groups who may be targeted by unconstitutional ballot initiatives, and the California Supreme Court’s decision will determine whether our state can be held hostage by special interests with no accountability to the public. We are hopeful that the Court will affirm that a handful of private citizens representing only their own narrow interests cannot usurp the role of the duly elected officials of the state of California.
Maura Dolan of the LA Times opines that the court leaned towards giving standing to the proponents.
The Advocate looks at Olson’s comments after the hearing.
Ari Ezra Waldman does some summary and Q&A.
Any other interesting takes you’ve found?
Update: Archived video of today’s hearing can be found here.