Today, the California Supreme Court ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 have standing under California law to defend it when government officials decline to. The court is addressing this issue at the request of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which needed an answer in order to determine if the Prop 8 proponents have standing to pursue their appeal of the federal district court decision striking Prop 8 down.
Since the proponents are now known to have standing under California law, the Ninth Circuit will likely rule that they have a stake in the outcome of the federal case and, therefore, standing for purposes of federal constitutional law.
The court clearly explained that its logic had nothing to do with Proposition 8 in particular, but with ballot initiatives in general. Its reasoning was straightforward:
Neither the Governor, the Attorney General, nor any other executive or legislative official has the authority to veto or invalidate an initiative measure that has been approved by the voters. It would exalt form over substance to interpret California law in a manner that would permit these public officials to indirectly achieve such a result by denying the official initiative proponents the authority to step in to assert the state‘s interest in the validity of the measure or to appeal a lower court judgment invalidating the measure when those public officials decline to assert that interest or to appeal an adverse judgment.
It is worth noting that other states do not always give initiative proponents the right under their own laws that California recognized today. This is a state court resolving a question of California law.