Calif court mulls appeal rights of Prop 8 backers

By the Associated Press | September 6, 2011 | 4:05 PM EDT

New California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu speaks to attorney Theodore Olson, partly shown at right, in a courtroom during a California State Supreme Court hearing in San Francisco, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. On Tuesday, the California Supreme Court will be considering whether the sponsors of Proposition 8 have a legal right to appeal the federal court ruling that overturned the same-sex marriage ban, since the governor and attorney general refused to bring such an appeal. The 9th US District Court of Appeals, which has main responsibility for the case on appeal, asked the state court to weigh in on the question it deals with the state’s ballot initiative process. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's highest court seems inclined to side with backers of the state's same-sex marriage ban in thinking that the state Constitution gives ballot initiative proponents legal authority to defend their measures in court.

The California Supreme Court heard more than an hour of arguments Tuesday on that question, which could prove pivotal to the future of the voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8.

Several justices noted that the court has never refused to allow the sponsors of ballot questions to appear before it when measures were challenged.

The Supreme Court is considering the matter at the request of a federal appeals court that is weighing whether the ban violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.