Prop. 8 Backers Claim "Fundamental Rights"

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  Sponsors of Prop. 8  Monday filed their opening brief in the State Supreme Court case examining the question of whether California law gives official proponents the right to defend their measure "when public officials charged with that duty refuse to do so."

   This is the question the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel asked the Supreme Court to answer. The outcome will help settle the key question of whether Prop. 8 proponents have "legal standing" to appeal the district court's decision that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution. The current and past Governor (Schwarzenegger) and Attorney General (Brown) agree with that decision and declined to appeal it.

   In their brief, attorneys representing Protect Marriage cite numerous cases where, they claim, California courts "repeatedly allowed official proponents of initiatives to defend those measures" when government officials "might not do so with vigor."

   The brief also describes a "special interest" proponents have "in intitiatives they have sponsored" and that they are entitled to participate as "real parties in interest."

   The answering brief by opponents of Prop. 8 is due March 28. Oral arguments could some as soon as September. The Supreme Court recently rejected a request by attorneys for two same sex couples to expedite the schedule.

  Legal experts say the question of standing here is a "close call" that could go either way.

   Imperial County also sought to defend it as a government entity with interest in the case, but the 9th Circuit rejected their claim.

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