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News Posted on February 21, 2014

Professor Amar Comments on Supreme Court and Voter Initiatives for KXTV

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, commented for a news report on Sacramento television station KXTV regarding legal issues that arise when elected officials decline to defend state ballot initiatives that are overturned in federal court.

After California's governor and attorney general declined to defend Proposition 8, the Supreme Court held in Hollingsworth v. Perry that initiative proponents lacked standing to appeal a district court decision overturning the same-sex marriage ban. One result has been that some backers of new initiatives have written language into their proposals detailing what would happen if elected officials declined to defend them, often designating initiative proponents as representatives.

Amar said that such language may prove to be immaterial given the majority opinion in Hollingsworth, which held that private parties cannot have standing. The key issue may be whether voters must have some sort of control--such as the ability to vote an official out of office--over whoever represents them in court. "If control is the question," says Amar, "then it's going to be hard for anyone other than elected officials to have standing," Amar said.

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law with the UC Davis School of Law, is a national authority in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and remedies. His biweekly column for, a leading provider of online legal information, centers on his expertise in constitutional law.