WaTimes: Critics Say Supreme Court’s Prop 8 Ruling Takes Power from Voters, Gives it to State Officials


Whatever your views on marriage -- the Prop 8 ruling is "fundamentally undemocratic":

The Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday on Proposition 8 unlocked the door for same-sex marriage in California but also may have stifled the voices of the state’s voters.

In its 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that the private group behind the citizen-initiated measure on the November 2008 ballot had no standing to defend Proposition 8 in federal court, even after California Gov. Jerry Brown and state officials refused to do so.

We the PeopleThe ruling on standing, while seemingly technical, has alarmed critics on both ends of the political spectrum, who worry that the decision effectively gives state officials the unchecked power to nullify ballot initiatives they dislike by refusing to enforce them or defend them in court.

“I think regardless of what anybody thinks about same-sex marriage, everyone who cares about democracy should be concerned about this decision,” said John Matsusaka, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. “It’s fundamentally undemocratic.”

The national revolt against higher taxes arguably began with a California citizen initiative: Howard Jarvis‘ Proposition 13 in 1978. Over the years, the state’s voters have weighed in on such hot-button issues as term limits, bilingual education, affirmative action, medical marijuana, punishment for crimes, government debt and, in 2008, same-sex marriage.

But the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., essentially held that those who draft, finance and campaign for the initiatives can’t get into the courtroom to defend their handiwork. (The Washington Times)

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