Brief Argues that the Ballot Initiative Undermines Checks and Balances
Sacramento - Today Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) joined with 22 legal scholars from across the nation to file an amicus brief in the case of Hollingsworth V. Perry, in opposition to Proposition 8, which took away equal marriage rights in the state of California. The brief states that Proposition 8 also eliminated the ability of those seeking equal marriage rights to pursue those rights through their elected representatives.
"Proposition 8 eliminated more than the equal right to marry, Proposition 8 also eliminated the ability of those seeking equal marriage rights to pursue those rights through their elected representatives," said Speaker John A. Pérez. "That deprives a historically disadvantaged group – a group of which I am a member – of access to traditional representation in a representative democracy. And that deprivation violates the Constitution."
The brief argues that if a voter initiative can deny gay people access to traditional representative democratic processes, then in the state of California, any other small, historically disadvantaged minority group can also be denied the right to representation.
"Proposition 8 clearly inhibits my legislative role, preventing me and my peers from moving forward legislation on marriage equality, although clearly we would likely do so if it were allowed," added Speaker Pérez. "Further, if a constituent requests that I or one of my elected colleagues pursue marriage equality legislation, none of us would be able to see such a bill signed into law, due to the restrictions placed upon us by Proposition 8."
The brief argues that this would undermine our most basic system of checks and balances by ensuring that the only power to seek equal rights is through the courts or an expensive and unwieldy initiative process. The framers of the Constitution regularly cited the protection of the rights of the minority as a justification for representative government.
Copies of the brief are available on the Speaker's web site, www.asmdc.org/speaker. Legal Scholars available to comment on the brief include:
Laura W. Brill
Counsel of Record
Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP
Prof. Karl Manheim
Professor Loyola Law School
Prof. Justin Levitt
Visiting Professor Yale Law School
Website of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez: http://www.asmdc.org/speaker/
CONTACT: Robin Swanson, (916) 319-2408