The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)
The Supreme Court was called to order at 10:00 a.m. sharp. The Chief Justice announced, “Justice Kennedy has our first opinion of the day in case number 12-307, United States v. Windsor. Everyone, in the bar members section at least, knew that this was the Defense of Marriage Act case.
That Justice Kennedy was announcing the opinion was significant; he wrote Lawrence v. Texas. Still, no one knew if the Court would reach the merits, since the Solicitor General had announced that the Executive Branch would not defend the constitutionality of DOMA.
Justice Kennedy is an orderly man. He set out the procedural background – Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were married legally in Canada, then came home to New York. Their same-sex marriage is lawful where it was performed and where they lived. Spyer died and left her estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim an estate tax exemption for the death of a spouse. DOMA prevented the IRS from recognizing Spyer as Windsor’s spouse. Windsor paid the tax, then challenged DOMA. She won in the district court and the Second Circuit. Justice Kennedy explained how a bipartisan committee found counsel to defend DOMA, and how DOMA was defended ably in the Supreme Court.
(As an aside, Paul Clement took heat for defending DOMA for Congress. When you think about it, if he hadn’t defended it well, the Supreme Court may not have thought it could reach the issue. Paul Clement may be the unsung hero of the DOMA decision.)
So, Kennedy concluded, the Court could reach the merits of whether DOMA is constitutional.
Though a hopeful sign for those who would cheer the demise of DOMA, the decision wasn’t entirely clear….
The headline in The Onion, which we noted earlier today, pretty much says it all: “Impatient Nation Demands Supreme Court Just Get To The Gay Stuff.” Today, the last day of the Term, SCOTUS granted our wish, issuing its long-awaited rulings on gay marriage in California and on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Last night, I attended the New York City Bar Association’s annual reception and cocktail party celebrating LGBT Pride Month. M. Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal and Lisa Linsky were honored for their work advancing LGBT rights. In her eloquent remarks, Linsky noted that despite all the progress of our community, and regardless of what the Supreme Court rules today, many battles remain to be fought.
How many more battles, and of what intensity? Let’s find out what the Court just decided, on the tenth anniversary of the landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas….
Looking back, the part of last week’s arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court that stands out most for me is the last hour (DOMA merits) — a fitting finale to two days of historic argument on same-sex marriage.
The way things unfolded, the last hour is why we all came. It is why people slept on the sidewalk for days. It is why Americans tuned in and logged on for updates. It is why the attorneys signed up to argue.
We were there to discuss the future of marriage in this country, how different people see it, and where state and federal governments fit in.
The Prop 8 argument went to those core issues the day before, but in fits and starts. A muddy hybrid of standing and merits.
The last hour of DOMA went there and stayed there. Merits were the only thing on the menu, and we ate it up….
[S]uppose a State said that, “Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.” Would that be constitutional?
(This exchange led to a wildly entertaining political ad parody about the dangers of old people marrying, produced by the Daily Dolt. Because if there’s anything that’s “worse” than gay marriage, it’s gray marriage! Please continue reading to see the video; you can thank us later.)
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on California’s Proposition 8. Today, they’re hearing oral arguments about the Defense of Marriage Act. If you didn’t already know that, you’ve reached the wrong website, Brazzers is thataway.
High-profile Supreme Court cases attract large numbers of protesters who congregate on First Street, and yesterday was no different. Honestly, I don’t know why. I guess seeing gay people in drag humping each other makes for good television. I guess filming some dour-looking woman who appears to be locked in a loveless, frumpy marriage is a fine way to establish the “conservative” side of the argument. That stuff may work on your average “I must find out where my people are going so I can lead them” Congressperson. But I’m positive that nine unelected judges appointed for life who think this “institution” of gay people loving each other in committed relationships is “newer than cellphones” don’t give a damn about the shenanigans on the courthouse steps.
If these protests are useful, they’re useful to make a point to the media and those watching from home about the issues at play. Towards that end, a group of five law students staged a protest that really added something to the discussion here that even most talking-head court watchers didn’t bring up. Of course, it’s a point that went way over the heads of at least 90 percent of the television audience…
Ed. note: Lawyer and journalist Michelle Olsen, a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar, attended today’s oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California.
Her write-up of the proceedings will appear shortly. In the meantime, check out the photographs she took while at the Court, after the jump.
May those arguing on behalf of same-sex “marriage” present their arguments in an inept, confusing and unconvincing way. May they fail to gain traction in the minds of the Justices. May the right of Californians to amend their state constitution to protect marriage be confirmed by the Court, and may the Defense of Marriage Act be ruled constitutional (Lev 20:all; 1 Sam 2:8-10; 2 Chr 14:11; 20:12-27; Pr 22:28; 24:21; Is 8:18-20; Dan 7:25-27; 2 Cor 2:5).
* OMG! Get ready to have a lawgasm, because the Supreme Court is going to be releasing same-day audio recordings from oral arguments during next week’s gay marriage cases: Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. [National Law Journal]
* “Way to go, Justice.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan work out with a personal trainer who’s got a client list that would make Article III Groupie swoon — and he just so happens to be a records manager at D.C.’s federal court. [Washington Post]
* Debevoise & Plimpton’s littlest litigatrix, Mary Jo White, sailed her way through the Senate Banking Committee with a vote of 21-to-1. Her nomination to lead the SEC will now head to the full Senate. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “Our 2012 numbers aren’t as good as we would have liked.” Gee, ya think? From attorney headcount to gross revenue to profits per partner, just about everything was down in 2012 for Fried Frank. [Am Law Daily]
* Eckert Seamans will be merging with Sterns & Weinroth, adding 17 partners and seven associates to its ranks. Someone please come up with the semen joke so I don’t have to. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
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