Academic journal article The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

California Notwithstanding: Why the Ninth Circuit Erred in Following the California Supreme Court's Grant of Standing to the Proponents of Proposition 8

Academic journal article The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

California Notwithstanding: Why the Ninth Circuit Erred in Following the California Supreme Court's Grant of Standing to the Proponents of Proposition 8

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The California Constitution expressly states that all political power is inherent in the people.1 In order to enforce this political power, California has a unique initiative system in which the electors propose statutes and amendments to the California Constitution, and then vote to adopt or reject them.2 As a result of this system, California voters possess a great deal of power in influencing California statutes and the California Constitution, and their wishes sometimes differ from those of their elected officials.3

In November 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that defined marriage in California as between a man and a woman.4 The passing of Proposition 8 launched a frenzy of litigation attacking the constitutionality of this state constitutional amendment.5 Central to this litigation, beyond questions of Due Process and Equal Protection, is the question of who may challenge the provision in federal court.6 This question first arose when, following the District Court's finding that Proposition 8 violated the United States Constitution, defendant-intervenors who had sponsored the initiative sought to bring the appeal in the place of the named defendants.7 The standing doctrine is the first hurdle that a party must overcome when seeking to bring a case, and this requirement must be met by parties bringing an appeal as well.8 In the latest case surrounding the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the Ninth Circuit ultimately decided that the defendant-intervenors were the proper party to bring the appeal, and proceeded to decide the case on its merits.9

This Comment argues that the proponents of Proposition 8 do not have standing under Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife and other federal standing precedent to bring an appeal in the Ninth Circuit because they have not suffered a particularized injury.10 Part II outlines the federal standing doctrine, including an examination of relevant case law, and provides background on the current Proposition 8 litigation.11 Part III argues that the California Supreme Court analyzed the question of whether the Proponents have standing under the incorrect standard.12 Part III then argues that the Ninth Circuit should not have given deference to the California Supreme Court's decision because it is bound by federal standing law, and the Proponents do not meet the injury-in-fact requirement.13 Part IV suggests that Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife's assertion that statutorily-created injuries do not automatically confer standing should be applied to state courts as well.14 Finally, Part V concludes that the reviewing court should find that initiative proponents do not meet the injury-in-fact requirement of Article III standing, and therefore the proponents of Proposition 8 do not have standing to appeal the lower court's decision.15

II. BACKGROUND

A. Federal Standing Doctrine

While the United States Constitution prescribes Article III federal courts with a great deal of power, these courts are bound by their obligation to solely hear "cases or controversies."16 This requirement is enforced by the standing doctrine.17 A party has standing to bring a case if three requirements are met.18 As articulated by Lujan, these requirements are: (1) the plaintiffmust have suffered an injury-in-fact; (2) there must be a causal connection between the injury and conduct complained of; and (3) it must be likely that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.19 Each element must be met for the court to determine that a party has standing.20 Moreover, these requirements must be met by parties seeking to bring an appeal, regardless of whether the party intervened in the previous proceedings.21

The injury-in-fact requirement is regarded as the most difficult element to prove, and is the most litigated of the three elements.22 In Lujan, the seminal case shedding light on the injury-in-fact requirement, a group of organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation brought an action against the Secretary of the Interior, seeking a declaratory judgment that a recently promulgated regulation was outside the Secretary's scope of duties. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.