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Hollingsworth v Perry (Prop 8 Supreme Court Case)

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  • Center Left
    Denton, TX
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    C-SPAN just came out with the audio from the Supreme Court hearing of Prop 8. The case is called Hollingsworth v Perry. I just listened to the whole thing. There were only a few people that talked either for or against. Basically it was Theodore Olson, the Attorney for Perry & Proposition 8 Opponents, Charles Cooper, the Attorney for Hollingsworth and the petitioners for Prop 8, and finally the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.

    The argument seemed to go something like this, once the justices decided to actually let the guys give the merit of their cases (which was an annoying and confusing thing to sit through):

    Cooper starts off saying that marriage is an institution that, at its core, was made as a ways and means for procreation. And, gays and lesbians can't procreate. Therefore, they shouldn't be allowed to marry.

    Then, Olson makes the initial argument that this is similar to discriminating against inter-racial marriages in our country's past, which the supreme court eventually overturned. And, that LGBT is basically being discriminated against strictly based on their status.

    All the while, the justices are asking a ton of questions, interjecting dozens of times, usually cutting the attorneys off mid-sentence. I couldn't really get the feel of which way though that any of them were leaning on the issue, minus Scalia. Scalia made it known, at least to me, that he is for precedence. If the constitution or another case out there can't be cited as saying that this is unconstitutional, which Olson couldn't give him any examples, then I think it's clear that Scalia will be for Hollingsworth on this one.

    Then, Verrilli steps in and makes the argument against Prop 8. ... I do not pretend to know what a Solicitor General is, anyone here know?? Anyways, I thought he killed the argument, honestly. His point was that it is a California issue, and should not extend to other states. Basically saying that he did not want the court at this time to make a sweeping case out of this. He got grilled by the justices for being contradictory with this agrument, and rightfully so.

    Anyways, it seems that with Prop 8 at least, the argument made boils down to this assertion:

    Opponent says that Prop 8 is unconstitutional because it discriminates against citizens that cause no harm to anyone strictly based on their social status. And the Proponents argue for Prop 8 remaining the law saying that gay marriage erodes the very fabric and identity of the institution that marriage was founded upon, and that would turn it into something that it is not.

    However, of course, there was more going on with the case than just simply that. But, really guys, not much more. I was very let down. I really thought that with all this time and thought and prep work that the two attorneys picked to represent such an important and loaded issue would have been more clever and original with their arguments. Personally, I think better arguments are made on this site, daily. Hell, hourly. ... I was disapointed.

    Never the less, here is the full audio and transcript of the hearing here:

    I still highly recommend checking it out. Its only 80 minutes long, and very interesting to hear just how a supreme court hearing goes down. At least, it was for me.
  • Democrat
    Philly, PA
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    That is normal proceedure at oral argument. The cases are truly argued in the briefs -- of which there were tons and I mean that literally!

    The oral arguments are there to expose things (like the inability of Cooper to offer an actual legal justification for the exclusion) and to discern nuances that were not expressed in the briefs. CJ Roberts didn't let anyone start out arguing their merits, it was all about standing. He did let the Solicitor General skip standing because he, as amicus, had no position on standing.

    I was surprised by Kennedy's relative ambivalence given he wrote Lawrence v Texas and Romer v Evans but I knew going in the issue of standing was shaky and he openly questioned whether the grant of cert was proper.

    I absolutely loved Justice Kagan's engagement, she was pointed and funny and just perfect jousting with Scalia (who, I have to admit was good too and avoided any foot in mouth this time around).

    As I said elsewhere on this board, the problem for judges / Justices is the disengaging of religion based morality from societal morality and justifying those differences in law . . . and after today, that goes for the lawyers arguing the case as well.

    There will be much more meat discussed tomorrow and I think some clarifications of positions will become more evident.