California's Supreme Court Weighs in on Proposition 8

Essay by ibkensterUniversity, Master'sA, September 2009

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

Since 1911 Californians have played an important role in shaping California's Constitution. Then Governor Hiram Johnson began his term by giving the citizens of California a tool in which they could use to adopt laws and constitutional amendments without the support of the Governor or the Legislature. California became the 10th State to adopt the initiative process (Secretary of State Debra Bowen, 2002).

In 2008 the citizens of California introduced Proposition 8, a ballot initiative written to overturn an earlier court decision legalizing same sex marriages. Proposition 8 eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry in California. It also provided that only marriage between a man and woman would be recognized in California. With both sides of the issue weighing in the measure was put to the voters on November 4, 2008. The ballot measure passed with 52.3% saying yes and 47.7% saying no (CBS Broadcasting Inc. (CBS). The State immediately adopted the measure on November 5, 2008 and challenges to its constitutionality have been on going through the legal system.

While thousands demonstrated outside; the California Supreme Court listened to arguments on the constitutionality of proposition 8. Gay rights advocates are seeking to overturn Prop 8 citing the initiative was put before the voters improperly; specifically that changes to the state constitution must be approved by the state legislature before being put on the ballot. Proponents of the Prop 8 are arguing that the initiative was approved correctly and in a free election the voters choose to exercise their right to change the constitution. Arguing for Prop 8, Ken Starr stated "it would be a miscarriage of justice for the court to overturn the results…" (Sakuma, 2009, ¶ 4).

The justices put forth a barrage of questions to Atty. Shannon Minter, arguing for gay...