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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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