Prop 8 defeat: A backstory

One of the interesting backstories concerns the lawyers who represented the plaintiffs in the case.  Most of our US readers will know about them, but perhaps not everyone else.

They are quite exceptional attorneys, who are among the most talented in the US.  Ted Olsen is apparently tops on constitutional law, while David Boies is said to be a wonderfully skilled trial lawyer.  Perhaps particularly interesting is the fact that they were on opposite sides of the Bush-Gore election struggle, with Olsen representing Bush and Boies representing Gore. 

There have been many conjectures about what they are trying to get for themselves from coming together over same-sex marriage.  Have a look at the video and see what you think. 


7 thoughts on “Prop 8 defeat: A backstory

  1. j-bro, I was hoping you’d comment.

    I agree about the trust issue. I haven’t looked at the wiki yet, but you know some of the story of TO’smarriage to Barbara, the journalist – I forget her last name?? They had apparently a passionate and deeply romantic marriage until she died on one of the 9/11 planes. Perhaps, just perhaps, he has a grasp of how unfair denying marriage rights to some groups is.

  2. I know the story, and it’s a sad one, but I don’t know whether it had any effect on his opinion on this issue. He argues the issue passionately, and in a way that is utterly consistent with classic US conservative values, as opposed to the Christian fanatics who have captured the Republican Party over the past couple decades. He may well be exactly what he appears to be: a principled attorney, whose principles have led him to a conclusion which is unpopular with some of the people he used to represent.

  3. (It’s also worth pointing out here that there’s evidence that much of the Bush administration was actually made up of classic Republican plutocrats, and didn’t really care about the social wedge issues except to the extent that they were a way to keep the right-wing Christian demographic coming to the polls. Certainly some of those very right-wing Christian types have asserted that they were taken in and never got everything they wanted. So Olsen may in fact have been a classic economic conservative all along, and we can’t really guess what his views on (e.g.) gay marriage or abortion are from his presence in the second Bush administration.)

  4. J-Bro, I think that the explanation that I really like is that each saw the chance to try to do something really good for a significant part of the population, and so are trying to do it. But I’m increasingly struck by the fact that reason alone doesn’t seem to get us very far morally. At least, it seems to me that many humans often fail in something like moral imagination. In this case, it would be the failure to get the impact on a community of a prohibition against marriage. Or to understand what a loss it is. I also have a bit of a problem with seeing Olsen as a man with a lot of moral imagination – Ronnie Dworkin has a nasty crack about the conservative supremes’ moral sense at the end of a piece in a recent NY Review of Books, and Olsen might be considered as rather on their side.

    Hence, my wonder about his loss.

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