by Rex Wockner
The American Bar Association will honor Ted Olson and David Boies, the famous odd-couple lawyers who got Proposition 8 declared unconstitutional last year.
The two star attorneys, who represented George W. Bush and Al Gore respectively before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2000 “hanging chad” election debacle, teamed up with the American Foundation for Equal Rights to fight the voter-passed constitutional amendment that re-banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008.
A federal district judge in San Francisco agreed with their arguments and struck down the amendment, which has remained in force as the ruling is appealed.
On Aug. 8, Olson and Boies will receive the American Bar Association Medal, a rare honor that isn’t bestowed at all in some years.
“Ted and David show that excellence in the legal profession transcends partisan and ideological boundaries,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “Thanks to these two world-class legal minds the dark walls of discrimination are beginning to crumble.”
Last year, Time magazine declared Olson and Boies two of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Same-sex couples remain unable to marry in California while three matters wind through the courts:
1. The appeal of the ruling that struck down Prop 8. The appeal is currently paused in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
2. Pending decisions from both the California Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit on whether the people who filed the appeal had a right to appeal. California state officials refused to defend Prop 8, so the sponsors of the ballot measure appealed the ruling that struck it down.
3. A pending determination by the 9th Circuit on whether the entire District Court ruling should be tossed out because the judge who issued it is in a same-sex relationship and, supposedly, could have had a desire to get married himself at the moment he issued the decision.
The alleged judicial conflict-of-interest issue is unlikely to go anywhere, but the question of whether the ballot-measure sponsors have legal “standing” to appeal is a real one. If they don’t, there will be no appeal and the ruling that struck down Prop 8 will take effect.
Should the appeal proceed on the merits of the decision, it would be heard first by the 9th Circuit and then likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could uphold Prop 8, strike it down in a way that applies only to California, or strike it down in a way that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.