The federal appeals court considering the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban wants supporters and opponents to explain how a state Supreme Court ruling authorizing Proposition 8's supporters to defend the measure affects the broader case.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in San Francisco issued an order Friday directing lawyers to file papers by Dec. 2 discussing what the panel should do next.
Acting at the request of the 9th Circuit, the California Supreme Court examined if ballot initiative sponsors have the right to defend their measures in court when the governor or attorney general refuse to do so. That's the situation with Proposition 8.
Seven justices unanimously agreed initiative backers have such authority, but their guidance is non-binding on the federal court.
If the panel accepts the Supreme Court's interpretation, it would clear the way for the appeals court to reach the merits of an appeal challenging a lower court ruling that overturned the ban.