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Same-sex marriages cases at a glance

The lawyers

Proposition 8: Hollingsworth vs. Perry

Theodore Olson: A former U.S. solicitor general during President George W. Bush's administration, Olson will argue on behalf of two same-sex couples who have sued to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. A leading conservative and Republican who has become a vocal advocate for gay marriage, Olson has experience arguing before the high court.

Charles Cooper: A former top Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, Cooper, who runs in the same conservative Beltway legal circles as Olson, will argue for ProtectMarriage.com.

Donald Verrilli: The current U.S. solicitor general, Verrilli will be President Barack Obama's voice in the Supreme Court in both today's and Wednesday's arguments, providing the administration's position that the California and federal gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. Solicitor general since 2011, Verrilli can only hope he gets better reviews than he did last year in arguments defending the president's health care law, when he was panned for his performance even though the court later ruled on his side.

Defense of Marriage Act, United States vs. Windsor

Roberta Kaplan: Kaplan, a New York lawyer, will carry the lowest profile of the attorneys arguing the cases but will no doubt play a crucial role, representing Edith Windsor, the New York woman whose denial of estate benefits from her spouse prompted a federal appeals court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Paul Clement: Another former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, Clement will argue in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, representing House Republicans who are defending the law now that the Obama administration considers it unconstitutional. Clement squared off against Verrilli in the health care cases, representing states that challenged the law.

In court today

How long will the argument last? The argument is scheduled for one hour. It will probably start around 10:15 a.m., after one or more of the justices summarize decisions released that day. In major cases, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. typically allows lawyers a little extra time, so the arguments may not conclude until around 11:30 or so. Transcripts and audio recordings will be available by about 1 p.m.

Who is arguing? Cooper, a lawyer for the proponents of Proposition 8, will have half an hour. He will probably get questions about his clients' standing and the reasons offered to support the ban on same-sex marriage. Olson, representing the couples who are challenging the ban, has 20 minutes. He will most likely be asked why the issue should be withdrawn from public debate and a fast-moving political process. Verrilli will have 10 minutes, and he will probably be asked about shifts in the Obama administration's positions.

Wednesday: The court hears arguments in United States vs. Windsor, which challenges the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sources: New York Times, mercurynews.com.

Same-sex marriages cases at a glance 03/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:18pm]
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