No Legs to Stand On: Article III Injury and Official Proponents of State Voter Initiatives


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry—which held that the official proponents of California’s Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal an adverse district court judgment—deals a heavy blow to voter-enacted legislation in the twenty-four states that make use of voter initiative processes. Challenges to voter-enacted legislation are increasingly being brought in federal courts, and federal courts are more likely to invalidate such legislation than a state’s own courts. In the wake of Hollingsworth, official proponents of state voter initiatives will be left with no legs to stand on whenever state government officials decline to appeal an adverse federal district court judgment. Since current Article III standing doctrine does not provide strong support for official proponents to successfully show standing in a future case, Hollingsworth should be overruled and replaced by a standard that is more charitable to state voter initiative processes. The purposes underlying standing doctrine support a new test for official proponent standing that is more accommodating to attempts by state legislatures to authorize official proponents to represent state interests in federal court.

About the Author

J.D. Candidate, UCLA School of Law Class of 2015.

By uclalaw