The California Supreme Court heard arguments on the state's same-sex marriage ban Tuesday, as justices grilled attorneys on whether Prop 8 sponsors have legal standing to appeal the judge's ruling.
Golden State voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008 but a federal judge struck it down last summer, ruling that it violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.
The backers of the ban argued that the state constitution gives ballot initiative proponents legal authority to defend their measures in court.
On that question, several justices noted that the California Supreme Court has always, as a matter of practice if not written policy, allowed ballot sponsors to appear before the court when their measures were challenged.
"Never in any recorded case have proponents been denied the right to advance their interests," Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar noted during the closely watched arguments.
"The present state of California law is we allow liberal intervention," she said.
The California court is examining the scope of the power afforded the official backers of ballot initiatives at the request of a federal appeals court.
A decision on the ban's constitutionality is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state attorney general have refused to defend the law in any court.