Gay Marriage

Have You Filed Your Gay Marriage Amicus Brief Yet?

Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments April 28.


"We'll try to squeeze that argument in down toward the bottom, okay?"
Credit: maxintosh / photo on flickr

The Supreme Court announced today it has scheduled oral arguments for April 28 for the four consolidated cases it will hear about state-level bans on same-sex marriage recognition. The justice will tackle the question of whether bans on gay marriage recognition violate the 14th Amendment.

So now comes the filing of briefs from folks taking sides and wanting to influence the court's decision either way. Probably getting the most attention, because of what it signals to the Republican Party as a new national election cycle revs up, are the conservatives who are encouraging the Supreme Court to make gay marriage recognition the law of the land. This Friday, a bunch of Republicans will be filing an amicus brief in support of striking down the bans. Jennifer Rubin notes some of the participants over at The Washington Post:

In the brief, the signatories argue that they "have concluded that marriage is strengthened, and its value to society and to individual families and couples is promoted, by providing access to civil marriage for all American couples—heterosexual or gay or lesbian alike. In particular, civil marriage provides stability for the children of same-sex couples, the value of which cannot be overestimated. In light of these conclusions, amici believe that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits States from denying same-sex couples the legal rights and responsibilities that flow from the institution of civil marriage." They argue that their belief in judicial restraint nevertheless is informed by their understanding that our "constitutional tradition empowers and requires the judiciary to protect our most cherished liberties against overreaching by the government, including overreach through an act of legislature or electorate. That principle, no less than our commitment to democratic self-government, is necessary to individual freedom and limited government."

Also signing on to the brief is David Koch, which has caused the typical confusion in certain progressive and gay media circles even though he has supported gay marriage for quite a while (Disclosure: Koch sits on the Board of Trustees for the Reason Foundation, which publishes this site).

This is not the first time a group of Republicans organized to submit a pro-gay-marriage brief to the Supreme Court. In 2013 a bunch of conservatives submitted a brief calling for the Supreme Court to overturn California's Proposition 8 (They won on a technicality; the court ruled the proposition's proponents didn't have standing to defend it and kicked it back to the state, which had already struck it down as unconstitutional).

The Human Rights Campaign decided to treat an amicus brief like a petition. They created a "people's brief" and have collected more than 200,000 signatures. They will be submitting it to the court tomorrow. BuzzFeed has some more on the pro-gay-marriage briefs here. (UPDATE: As I was writing this, Reuters reported 379 businesses will be filing their own brief today in support of same-sex marriage recognition.)

Folks on both sides had also already filed amicus briefs when these cases were still at the district level. Alliance Defending Freedom, supporters of the one-man-one-woman marriage model, had already filed briefs on behalf similarly minded legislators and activist groups for some of the cases the Supreme Court will be hearing.