Lawyer Ted Olson returned to court on Tuesday to argue that proponents of Proposition 8 don't have the legal standing to defend the amendment in court.

The 10AM hearing before the California Supreme Court was the latest round in the legal challenge to the 2008 voter-approved amendment to the California Constitution which overturned the high court's ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state.

Protect Marriage, the coalition of socially conservative groups which put Proposition 8 on the ballot, argued that it should be allowed to defend the amendment in court.

Lawyer Charles Cooper told the justices that proponents of an initiative have the right to propose valid measures.

“So, it is integral and inescapable that they have the right to defend the validity of that measure, whether it's challenged before enactment or it's challenged after,” Cooper argued.

Protect Marriage last year stepped in to appeal a federal judge's ruling declaring the law unconstitutional after state officials refused to defend the law in court.

At issue is whether the group has the legal right to represent the people of California in the lawsuit.

If the high court decides proponents do not have the legal standing to intervene, then the federal court's order would likely become law, and the marriages of gay couples in California would resume. Such a resolution would have limited effect outside the state.

Olson, arguing for the plaintiffs – two gay couples who wish to marry in California – told the justices that allowing proponents of an initiative to take the place of elected officials in such instances would undermine the authority of the California attorney general.

“Initiative proponents are elected by no one,” Olson said. “Proponents took no oath to represent the people.”

In a statement released after the hearing, Olson added: “The Proponents of Proposition 8 will not suffer any harm from a decision that grants gay and lesbian Californians their fundamental civil right to marry. It is the attorney general who has the exclusive authority to make litigation decisions on behalf of the state, and here the attorney general has made the sound decision that the discrimination provisions of Proposition 8 do not warrant defense on appeal. Proponents cannot second-guess that exercise of discretion.”

The court has 90 days to rule on the matter.