Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Under California state law, can Proposition 8 backers defend it in court?

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering ProtectMarriage's challenge of a federal judge's ruling that the same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. State officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, have declined to go to bat for the ballot measure.

In fact, Brown, who's now named as a defendant, asked the California Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional back when he was attorney general, and Harris has since asked the 9th Circuit to dismiss its order barring same-sex marriages as the appeal makes its way through the courts.

Since no state official has jumped to Proposition 8's defense, the federal appeals court wants the California Supreme Court to opine on who has legal standing under state law to do so. Here's the question before the state Supreme Court, in all its legal glory:

Whether under Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution, or otherwise under California law, the official proponents of an initiative measure possess either a particularized interest in the initiative's validity or the authority to assert the State's interest in the initiative's validity, which would enable them to defend the constitutionality of the initiative upon its adoption or appeal a judgment invalidating the initiative, when the public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so.

The state Supreme Court will post its ruling in Perry v. Brown on its website at 10 a.m. The state court can't tell the federal court what to do, of course, but the federal court may consider the state court's opinion when deciding who can defend it before the federal bench.

Capitol Weekly and the University of California, meanwhile, are co-sponsoring a conference in Sacramento on the state's prisons. Topics include the problems and politics of prisons, possible reforms, and the shift in some public safety responsibilities from the state to the local level.

Listed speakers and panelists include Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate; Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones; Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Safety; and Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Registration (cost is $199) starts at 8 a.m. at the Crest Theatre on K Street. The conference itself runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Today's also the day that California State University faculty have declared a one-day strike at two of the system's campuses: East Bay and Dominguez Hills. CSU trustees approved another 9 percent tuition increase Wednesday amid protests in Long Beach, as The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall reported in this post.

HEARINGS: An Assembly hearing at 10 a.m. in the Capitol's room 127 looks at state and federal funding of delinquency prevention and youth development programs. Information technology procurement is the subject of a joint legislative hearing starting at 10 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 437. And an Assembly committee heads to eBay headquarters in San Jose for a hearing from 2 to 5 p.m. on the impact of the state's activities on California's high-tech economy.

CHALLENGE: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, announces the winner of the canned food competition between legislators and fifth-graders from Sacramento area schools. Look for kids from Bannon Creek Elementary School, Leonardo da Vinci School and Theodore Judah Elementary School on the Capitol's west steps at 3:30 p.m. The donations are going to Operation Gobble.


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