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SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Arguments in Historic Civil Rights Case for Same-Sex Marriage Equality


David Boies and Theodore B. Olson

On March 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in the landmark civil rights case challenging California’s Proposition 8, which stripped gays and lesbians of the right to marry. The case was brought by BSF Chairman David Boies and his one-time courtroom adversary, former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. 

In a profound show of support for marriage equality, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. filed an amicus brief on behalf of theU.S.government on February 28, 2013, in support of the case. The brief asserts that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, a conclusion reached by judges at every level as this case has made its way through the courts.

In August 2010, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California held that the measure denied gays and lesbians inCaliforniatheir rights to equal protection and due process.  The ruling, which spanned 136 pages and included 80 separate findings of fact, followed a twelve-day trial in which Boies subjected experts called by the Proponents of Proposition 8 to devastating cross-examination.  In its opinion, the district court found that the Proponents’ experts lacked credibility and that their opinions were entitled to little or no weight. 

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs on February 7, 2012. The appellate opinion states that Proposition 8 "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians inCalifornia, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." 

BSF was a party to a brief filed with the Supreme Court on the merits of the plaintiffs’ case on February 21, 2013. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 26, and the Court is expected to issue a ruling by late June.

In addition to David Boies, the BSF team on the case includes partners Jeremy Goldman, Steven Holtzman, and Theodore Uno, counsel Rosanne Baxter, Rick Bettan, Beko Reblitz-Richardson, and Jarrod Reich, and associates Meredith Dearborn, Randall Ewing, Darien Meyer, and Josh Schiller.