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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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