The same Perry attorneys head back to court Tuesday, but their arguments will appear under a new docket name: Perry v. Brown.
In March, the federal courts updated the names of the Perry defendants to reflect California’s newly-elected political officials, who took office on January 3. The docket now reflects that, since the Perry case began, Jerry Brown has replaced Arnold Schwarzenegger as California’s governor, and former San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has replaced Brown as the state’s attorney general.
The docket change is an automatic substitution that occurs when a suit is pending against any public official “in his or her official capacity,” meaning that the defendants are being sued as state figureheads and not as individuals with personal liability. The case is now formally known as Kristin Perry, et al v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., et al. Its Ninth Circuit docket number remains 10-16751.
At the California Supreme Court on Tuesday, attorneys on both sides will argue about whether California law would allow the Proposition 8 defendants to appeal an unfavorable state court decision if the California governor and attorney general refused to do so. Judges from the Ninth Circuit have asked the California Supreme Court to answer this question. The federal judges may use California’s approach to guide their own decision about whether the Proposition 8 proponents have the “standing” – or legal authority – to appeal the unfavorable decision they received last year in federal district court, where former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution. For more on the issue, click here.