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Indiana solicitor general: ‘Good day’ for traditional marriage at SCOTUS

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Indiana and other states against same-sex marriage appeared to make a strong impression on the U.S. Supreme Court justices Tuesday, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said after watching arguments in Washington.

“On balance, my sense is that a proposition that adheres to traditional marriage seemed to have a pretty good day,” said Fisher, who with state attorneys from Virginia wrote an amicus brief joined by 17 states in Hollingsworth v. Perry, 12-144,  which justices heard Tuesday. “I don’t know that our side will win, but it seems unlikely we will lose based on the arguments.”

In Hollingsworth, California’s Proposition 8 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was struck down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The states argue that they have an interest in protecting their ability to define and regulate marriage, and preserve the integrity of their constitutions and democratic processes.

Fisher also authored an amicus brief joined by 16 other states in U.S. v. Windsor, 12-307, a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act which will be argued before the court Wednesday. Justices are asked in that case to decide whether Section 3 of the Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7, violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In the Hollingsworth arguments, justices appeared to question whether proponents of Proposition 8 had standing or authority to represent their claims in federal court, Fisher said. “It’s not clear to me there are five votes on either side of that issue,” he said.

Fisher said he agreed with the analysis of SCOTUS blog writer and veteran court expert Lyle Denniston, who was seated next to him during arguments. Denniston wrote that in a rare public display, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy worked through many possible options for the court and “openly wondered why the court had agreed even to hear the case.”

Fisher believes the court is unlikely to dismiss the case, though. He said it’s likely the court will decide on standing and render a decision on the merits.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said when the briefs were filed that they reflected the state’s leadership “on advocating generally for the legal authority of states to determine their own marriage license definitions and specifically for the traditional marriage definition of one man and one woman.

“Our briefs filed before the U.S. Supreme Court defend the authority of other states to define marriage – including those nine states that legally recognize same-sex couples – and also defend the traditional marriage definition that underpins traditional family structure and is of central legal importance to our state.”

The Indiana Legislature this year suspended consideration of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage pending resolution of the cases before the Supreme Court.

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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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