Rights Groups File Amicus Brief Urging
California Supreme Court to Invalidate Proposition 8
filed in response to Court's invitation
after it deferred action on Nov. petition
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JANUARY 15, 2009 -- The Equal
Justice Society joined other civil rights groups today in filing
an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court to invalidate
Proposition 8 because it would mandate discrimination against a
minority group and did not follow the process required for fundamental
revisions to the California Constitution.
amicus brief, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Mexican American
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Society, California
NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. argue
that minority communities cannot be stripped of their fundamental
rights by a simple majority vote.
would be making a grave mistake to view Proposition 8 as just affecting
the LGBT community," said Eva Paterson, president of the Equal
Justice Society. "If the Supreme Court allows Proposition 8
to take effect, it would represent a threat to the rights of people
of color and all minorities."
14, the same groups filed a writ petition with the California Supreme
Court to stop the enactment of Proposition 8, but the California
Supreme Court on Nov. 20 deferred action on that petition, and invited
the petitioners to file an amicus curiae brief.
of the amicus brief filed today is available at http://equaljusticesociety.org/prop8.
was filed by Raymond C. Marshall of Bingham McCutchen and Prof.
Tobias Barrington Wolff of University of Pennsylvania Law School
on behalf of leading African American, Latino, and Asian American
groups argues that Proposition 8 prevents the courts from exercising
their essential constitutional role of enforcing the equal protection
rights of minorities.
Constitution requires that any measure attempting to revise the
underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved
by a two-thirds vote of the legislature before being submitted to
the voters. Proposition 8 was not approved through that constitutionally
has precedent for invalidating an improper voter initiative. In
1990, the court overruled an initiative that would have added a
provision to the California Constitution stating that the "Constitution
shall not be construed by the courts to afford greater rights to
criminal defendants than those afforded by the Constitution of the
United States." That measure was invalid because it improperly
attempted to strip California's courts of their role as independent
interpreters of the state's constitution.
8 contradicts the most basic protection guaranteed by the California
Constitution, which is the right to equal protection of the laws,"
said John Trasviña, President and General Counsel of the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "We can
not allow the Constitution to sanction discrimination against one
group of people."
democracy cannot override the California Constitution, which requires
more than a majority vote to deprive a minority group of their fundamental
rights," said John A. Payton, President and Director-Counsel
of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
cannot become a society that picks and chooses who is entitled to
equal rights," said Alice A. Huffman, president of the California
State NAACP. "We should include all people from all walks of
life in the entitlement to all freedoms now enjoyed by the majority
of our population As a civil rights advocate, we will continue the
fight of eliminating roadblocks to freedom."
with core equal protection principles, minority communities must
not be stripped of their fundamental rights by bare majority rule,"
said Julie Su, Litigation Director of the Asian Pacific American
Legal Center. "California went down this path before when the
majority population chose to bar interracial marriages involving
an unpopular minority: Asian immigrants. The state Constitution
exists exactly for this reason - to protect the fundamental rights
of minority communities."
not forget the landmark 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia,
which allowed two people of different races to marry," said
Paterson of the Equal Justice Society. "People then believed
it was acceptable to keep Mildred Loving from marrying a white man
because of their ideas of who should marry whom. We must not return
to those times."
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (naacpldf.org)
was founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall. Although
LDF's primary purpose was to provide legal assistance to poor African
Americans, its work over the years has brought greater justice to
in 1968, MALDEF (maldef.org),
the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization, promotes
and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy,
community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher
Pacific American Legal Center (apalc.org)
is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for civil rights,
providing legal services and education, and building coalitions
to positively influence and impact Asian Pacific Americans and to
create a more equitable and harmonious society. APALC is affiliated
with the Asian American Justice Center, the Asian American Institute
in Chicago, and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.
Justice Society (equaljusticesociety.org)
is a national strategy group heightening conscious on race in the
law and popular discourse. Using a three-pronged strategy of law
and public policy advocacy, cross-disciplinary convenings and strategic
public communications, EJS seeks to restore race equity issues to
the national consciousness, build effective progressive alliances,
and advance the discourse on the positive role of government.