From ABC News:
President George W. Bush’s first Solicitor General, Ted Olson, filed a lawsuit in US district court on May 22 to protest Prop 8, the California law banning same sex marriage.
Joining with his former opponent in Bush v Gore, David Boies, Olson is suing on behalf of two same-sex couples in California, The Advocate reports: Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, who have been together for nine years and are the parents of four children, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank, who have been together for eight years.
Their argument: the State of California giving same sex couples “the separate-but-unequal institution of domestic partnership,” instead of full marriage, violates equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, creating a class of “second-class citizens.”
“For a long time I’ve personally felt that we are doing a grave injustice for people throughout this country by denying equality to gay and lesbian individuals,” Olson told The Advocate.
Olson said that recent US Supreme Court rulings “make it clear that individuals are entitled to be treated equally under the Constitution. I’m reasonably confident that this is the right time for these [injustices] to be vindicated.”
It should be noted, for those not fully aware of Mr. Olson’s resume, that he is a full-throated conservative, a Federalist hero who in 1999 welcomed conferees to “the heart” of the proverbial “vast right-wing conspiracy” he is perhaps the most highly respected conservative lawyer in the land. As Assistant Attorney General, he defended President Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, served on the board of directors of The American Spectator, and helped Paula Jones’s lawyers prepare for their case.
From John Aravosis at AMERICAblog:
Ted Olson. Also known as George Bush’s Solicitor General. Also known as the guy who represented George Bush at the Supreme Court in the Bush v. Gore case. Also known as Mr. Burns. The man is pure evil. And he’s now representing a gay couple in a legal challenge in federal court to overturn Prop 8.
It doesn’t get any more conservative and nasty than Ted Olson. And now he’s supporting gay marriage. And not just supporting it, but putting his legal muscle behind it.
First off, thank you Mr. Olson. Seriously. And to our readers, this just goes to show you that even I can be fooled into thinking that some people are too far gone.
Secondly, Ted Freaking Olson is now better on gay marriage than our president – than most of our party. Well, to be fair, let me be precise – Ted Olsen is now better on gay marriage than our president claims publicly to be.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The challenge brought in U.S. District Court in San Francisco also worried gay-rights advocates, who have avoided taking the issue to federal court because of the predominance of conservative judges on the federal bench and the risk of adverse rulings.
A coalition of nine gay-rights advocacy groups called the suit “premature” and warned that without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t seem likely to rule that same-sex couples are entitled to marry. The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, urged those disappointed by Tuesday’s high-court ruling upholding Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage to pursue their rights through another voter initiative or the Legislature.
“Test cases can blow up in your face,” said Matt Coles, head of the ACLU program on gay-rights issues.
An untimely challenge to the constitutionality of Georgia’s antisodomy law in Bowers vs. Hardwick in 1986 led to widespread rejection of gay and lesbian rights claims across the judiciary for 17 years, Coles recalled, before the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself in 2003’s Lawrence vs. Texas.
Olson and Boies, acting as co-counsel for the first time in their long, distinguished careers, argued that inaction for fear of a setback in the federal courts was unacceptable at a time when same-sex couples, some of whom silently flanked the attorneys at a news conference Wednesday, are being denied the fundamental right of marriage.
“Reasonable minds can differ, but when you have people being denied civil rights today, I think it is impossible as lawyers and as an American to say, ‘No, you have to wait. Now is not the right time,’ ” Boies added.
Olson, allied with conservative groups such as the Federalist Society, was asked why he decided to take up the cause of same-sex marriage rights.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of any organization that was antigay or felt that a group was not entitled to equal rights,” replied Olson, who has spent most of his career with Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. “I hope that people don’t suspect my motives.”
Boies vouched for the sincerity of his erstwhile opponent, saying Olson was “committed in his heart and soul to equality.”
The lawyers, waging the inaugural case of the newly created American Foundation for Equal Rights, pointed to several Supreme Court rulings as evidence that the justices can be counted on to make the right decision when important rights are at stake, including the 1967 ruling in Loving vs. Virginia that struck down that state’s ban on interracial marriage.
The suit filed by Olson and Boies […] was assigned to U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco.
The Northern District of California is the only one of the four federal district benches in California with a majority of judges appointed by Democratic presidents — eight of the 12.
Walker was named to the bench by Republican President George H.W. Bush but has shown himself willing to buck the political tide of the appointing party, as in his refusal to dismiss a case alleging illegal wiretapping by the administration of former President George W. Bush.