Political Notebook

Olson backs gay marriage ruling

August 9, 2010

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The US Supreme Court should uphold a federal judge’s ruling that gay and lesbian couples have an equal right to marriage, the nation’s former solicitor general said yesterday.

Theodore Olson, who was solicitor general under President George W. Bush and one of the lawyers who argued on behalf of same-sex marriage, said he was confident the high court will uphold US District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to strike down a California referendum passed in 2008 that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“Since 1888, the United States Supreme Court has 14 times decided and articulated that the right to marriage is a fundamental right,’’ Olson said on “Fox News Sunday.’’ “We’re not talking about a new right here.’’

Walker on Wednesday threw out Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment passed by 52 percent of California voters, saying the measure violates the federal constitution and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Olson, a lawyer with Gibson Dunn in Washington, joined with David Boies, his adversary in the Supreme Court case that determined Bush won the 2000 presidential election, in the case.

He said Walker’s ruling was no different than Supreme Court decisions that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage and rejected claims that Walker was an “activist judge.’’

“We do not permit discrimination, inequality,’’ Olson said. “That’s why we have a 14th Amendment that guarantees equal rights to all citizens. It’s not judicial activism when judges do what the Constitution requires them to do, and they follow the precedent of previous decisions of the Supreme Court.’’

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, which supported Proposition 8, called it a “flawed decision.’’

The decision is a case of one judge “who says he knows better than not only seven million voters in the state of California, but voters in 30 states across the nation that have passed marriage amendments,’’ Perkins said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.’’

Perkins said the judge ignored “social empirical data’’ that supported the amendment. He said laws over the past 40 years, have “devalued marriage’’ have “truly impacted children and impacted the institution of marriage.’’


Immigration debate gives big boost to Ariz. governor
As the year began, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona faced a competitive field of fellow Republicans who wanted her job, with some GOP critics sensing she was particularly vulnerable as she sought voter approval of a sales tax increase she’d proposed to shore up the state budget.

All of that began to change in April, when she signed a tough new state law cracking down on illegal immigrants, which soon put Arizona at the heart of a national debate on immigration. Now, with Arizona’s Aug. 24 GOP primary just two weeks away, not only is she riding high, she can confidently boast of an enviable reputation among conservatives across the country.

“She essentially flipped the whole election,’’ said Matthew Jette, the only candidate still actively campaigning against Brewer. “She was pretty much dead last, except if you count me.’’

All of the prominent challengers have either withdrawn or stopped actively campaigning. And although early polling had put Brewer 20 points below the presumptive Democratic nominee, Attorney General Terry Goddard, recent polling suggested she was leading him by that much. Republican candidates in other states have been welcoming her endorsements.

Brewer “has become an inspiration to conservatives and represents the new kind of leadership we need across the country,’’ said Karen Handel, a Georgia gubernatorial candidate.

Brewer was midway through her second term as Arizona’s secretary of state when she took over the governor’s office from Democrat Janet Napolitano, who resigned in January 2009 to run the US Department of Homeland Security.

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