Today the California Supreme Court, acting on a request by the Ninth District Court of Appeals, held that the proponents of a ballot initiative have standing to support the measure in court when State officials decline to do so. The underlying case? A complaint filed in federal court against the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution limiting the right to marry to opposite-sex couples. You can read a synopsis of the rulingĀ here.

In so doing, the California Supreme Court has carved out an exception to the general rule that State officials have discretion as to whether or not they will defend a law in court. This exception applies only to the initiative process, and holds that the proponents of an initiative have standing to support in court. It has logic: Often a ballot measure is only necessary because state officials are unwilling or unable to create the legislation on their own.

My unanswered question – does an average citizen unrelated to the drafters of the petition have the same standing? If so you could have 18,000,000 parties in support and another 15,000,000 in opposition. Now that would be a class action!