Attorney Boies Discusses Prop 8 options
The excitement of the presidential election is passed; it is time for Washington, D.C. to get back to work. At the top of the schedule is a conference of the Supreme Court justices on November 30, where they will discuss whether to take cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act and the federal challenge to Proposition 8.
The justices had indicated they would consider the marriage cases next week, but on Tuesday said that they would be on the conference schedule at the end of the month.
Representing two same-sex couples challenging Prop 8, along with Theodore Olson, is attorney David Boies, who was awarded the Public Interest Excellence Award by the University of San Francisco’s School of Law on November 9.
Before the event, Boies sat down with the Bay Area Reporter to discuss what he expects from the nation’s highest court at the end of the month.
In regards to Prop 8, the justices will make one of three decisions. They could "deny cert," as Boies said, which would allow the ruling by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals striking down Prop 8 to go in to effect. If that happens, same-sex couples in California could once again legally wed.
The justices could also decide to hear the case, which would require Boies and Olson to submot written briefs and present oral arguments, most likely in April. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, as Boies said, they could essentially "decide this issue once and for all. So that, not only could people get married in California, they could get married in Alabama," and everywhere else in the country. A final decision would be expected in June 2013.
However, the court could also decide to "in effect, just hold the petition in our case, not make a decision one way or another," which would leave Boies’s clients, and same-sex couples in the state, in limbo, not knowing if or when they will be able to legally marry.
The Supreme Court conference comes at the end of a month full of big gains for supporters of marriage equality. On election night, November 6, Maine, Maryland, and Washington state all passed ballot measures supporting legal unions for gay and lesbian couples. Couples can begin marrying in Washington next month; Maine and Maryland will follow in January.
Those states join Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. in allowing same-sex marriage.
In Minnesota last week, voters rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, although it is still not legal to marry in the North Star State.
Boies was asked if this year’s election results would have any effect on the Supreme Court’s decision.