The Times said several state high court justices suggested during an hour of argument Tuesday the initiative system would be meaningless if proponents could not defend ballot measures from court challenges.
Proponents of Proposition 8, the initiative that banned gay marriage but was overturned in federal court last year, want the right to appeal the federal judge's ruling. California Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris have refused to challenge the federal district judge's decision.
While more meaningful action will occur in federal court, the state high court must open the gateway for the federal action.
Earlier, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California high court to rule on the status of initiative sponsors in state court. After the California Supreme Court rules, the federal appeals court must decide whether ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored Proposition 8, has standing to appeal in the federal courts, the Times said.
The state high court's decision is likely to influence the 9th Circuit's decision on whether ProtectMarriage has standing in federal court, the newspaper said.
If the appeals court rules Prop 8 sponsors lack the the right to appeal, the federal district court's order declaring the initiative unconstitutional would remain in place.
Slightly more than 52 percent of voters approved the initiative, a state constitutional amendment, during the November 2008 state elections.