Prop. 8 hearing: Key moments from the courtroom

March 26, 2013|Times Staff
  • Charles Cooper, a lawyer fighting against overturning Prop. 8, presents his arguments before the Supreme Court.
Charles Cooper, a lawyer fighting against overturning Prop. 8, presents… (Associated Press )

In arguments that could lead to a Supreme Court decision unleashing profound change for the nation, justices Tuesday questioned legal teams about California's gay marriage ban. The exchanges were interesting if not  telling -- the consensus being that the justices did not reveal their leanings.

Here are selected questions and comments of note. A ruling on the case isn't expected until the end of spring.

Justice Roberts’ comments on standing

Several justices, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts, sounded skeptical Tuesday that a private citizen could defend the state’s laws. “I don’t think we have ever allowed something like that,” Roberts said.

Photos: Passions heat up outside Supreme Court

Justice Kennedy on harm to children

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, while acknowledging that the long-term effects of legalized gay marriage are unknown, suggested that the tens of thousands of children of gay and lesbian couples in California have a voice in the case as well. “They want their parents to have full recognition,” he said.

Justice Kagan on procreative purpose

Justice Elena Kagan drew laughter in the courtroom when she pressed attorney Charles Cooper to explain why the government should deny marriage to same-sex couples. Cooper, who represents the sponsor of Prop. 8, said marriage was about “responsible procreation.”

Photos: Passions heat up outside Supreme Court

Justice Roberts on the institution of marriage

If Kennedy made clear his sympathy to gay marriage in California, Chief Justice John G. Roberts and conservative colleagues were just as clear in saying they opposed the idea. Marriage has been limited to a man and a woman since “time immemorial,” Roberts said.

Attorney Theodore Olson on the importance of labels

Attorney Theodore Olson contended that the label of marriage was just as important as the state recognition that comes with it. “It is like you were to say, ‘You can vote, you can travel, but you may not be a citizen,’” Olson said.

Justice Kennedy on taking the case

Twice during the oral argument, Kennedy questioned why the court had voted to hear the California case. “I wonder if this case was properly granted,” Kennedy said.

Attorney Charles Cooper on potential harm

Attorney Charles Cooper said that allowing same-sex marriage could potentially harm marriage as an institution. “Among those real-world consequences, Your Honor, we would suggest are adverse consequences.”

To hear audio of these highlights, click here.


Justices appear closely split

Justices grill lawyers on gay marriage

Only Scalia, Alito seemed to back Prop. 8

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