Who Will Argue At SCOTUS?

The good guys from all four states headed for SCOTUS gathered in Michigan this weekend where they participated in a mock courtroom hearing to work out who will make oral arguments in the two issues before the court. We might get their decision today. Via Reuters:

Intense negotiations peaked in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday when contenders involved met for the legal equivalent of a bakeoff, and sources close to the talks said an announcement was likely to come on Tuesday. Front-runners for the two spots appeared to be Mary Bonauto, a prominent gay advocate who has worked for the cause for decades, and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, a former assistant U.S. solicitor general who is now an appellate specialist in private practice.

At issue before the nine justices on April 28 will be two questions: whether the U.S. Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage, and if it does not, whether states that ban it must recognize marriages performed in states permitting such unions. It has been difficult to fully assess the tenor of negotiations, since key leaders have declined to talk about the selection process of the two lawyers, one to argue each legal question. Skirmishes often occur in consolidated cases, when multiple parties are on a side but only one lawyer gets a spot at the lectern.

Mary Bonauto is with GLAD and would argue the constitutional issue. Per the above-linked report, Hallward-Driemeier has already been chosen and will argue the recognition issue.

UPDATE: The word is official and both of the above have been selected.

Lawyers for Michigan nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who seek to marry in their home state of Michigan, today announced Mary L. Bonauto will represent the team making the case’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28. Bonauto will present arguments for question 1, “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?”

“I’m humbled to be standing up for the petitioners from Kentucky and Michigan who seek the freedom to marry, along with the Michigan team of Carole Stanyar, Dana Nessel, Ken Mogill, and Robert Sedler, and with support from the other legal teams,” said Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. “The road that we’ve all travelled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right. Same-sex couples should not be excluded from the joy, the security, and the full citizenship signified by that institution. I believe the Court will give us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day when all LGBT Americans will be able to marry the person they love.”

“April and Jayne’s family, and tens of thousands of families like theirs in Michigan, will be represented by a dynamic litigator who has a history of fighting and winning LGBT rights cases in states and districts across the country,” said Nessel. “We are very pleased that an attorney representing the DeBoer-Rowse family will be addressing the issue of marriage equality for what we hope will be the last time in our nation’s history.”

Douglas Hallward-Driemeier will present oral arguments on behalf of plaintiffs in Ohio and Tennessee for question 2, “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”

UPDATE II: Here’s their notice to SCOTUS.

  • Brendan Denehy

    I hope that Mary Bonauto gets to argue at least part of the case. She is a terrific woman and she argued the Massachusetts case which gave us the first marriages in the country. It would be a nice recognition of her work, and she is a very capable lawyer.

    • Dreaming Vertebrate

      Your wish – fulfilled!

    • tristram

      I’m sure any and all would do a great job. But there’s nobody in whom I have more confidence than Mary Bonauto. She is an extraordinary attorney and advocate, and she has been there from the beginning. Not only was she one of the architects, she has built this house with her hands, brick by brick.

      • tristram

        (Not to say she did any of it alone – she has been part of several teams of incredible people working together behind the scenes for almost two decades to make all of this – one hopes – a reality.)

  • Maybe we need a bracket tournament!

  • Sam_Handwich

    I nominate Str8Grandmother. Love to hear her crack together Thomas and Scalia’s heads like a couple of coconuts.

    • WNY

      Last night, NBC Nightly News was talking about the Indiana controversy and they showed a screen shot of the #BoycottIndiana Twitter feed. Str8Grandmother’s tweet was at the top of the page leading the charge.

      • Mike in Texas

        I saw that too …

        • Cricket

          I saw it as well. I got all excited!

      • BearEyes

        I saw that too and got a smile about it.

  • disqus_oCvsL5SBJH

    As long as Mike Pence argues the other side, I think we’ll be fine.

    • bkmn

      Or ADF, Liberty Counsel, or virtually any fundie state AG.

      • Steverino

        Throw Alliance Defending Fallacies into the mix and it will become a losing trifecta.

  • KnownDonorDad

    Hallward-Driemeier, a partner in the Washington office of Ropes & Gray, only recently became involved in the gay-marriage fight, but he has argued 14 cases at the high court, according to his biography on the firm website.

    It’s good to have someone with that kind of experience on the team – I’m surprised Mary Bonauto has never argued before the High Court, but she brings long-standing experience in LGBT causes and, as Brendan noted, argued the Massachusetts case that started it all.

  • Plaintiffs’ legal team confirmed the selection of Mary Bonauto (Question 1) and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier (Question 2) in a press release I received by email. You can see the full statement here : http://on.fb.me/1xSOUkA

  • canoebum

    I can think of no one more deserving of the honor of representing our case than Mary Bonauto.

  • bkmn

    I trust all of them. If you are able to afford a donation any of these groups are already putting the money to good use.

    • Queequeg

      I’ve cut back on donations, but have made an exception for Lambda Legal. They have been great through this whole saga.

  • Gerry Fisher

    I love, love, LOVE Mary Bonauto’s work. 🙂 So happy she’ll be involved.

  • Here’s the plaintiffs’ official letter to the Supreme Court: http://bit.ly/1aew6lg

  • Queequeg

    I’ve seen Mary Bonauto on the Newshour. She will be a very articulate voice for us. Good luck to the attorneys, their clients, and the rest of us, who are all waiting for this decision.

  • Ken

    Without Mary Bonauto we wouldn’t be where we are today regarding marriage equality. She was the one who persuaded the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to rule that gay people have the right to marry. She’s one for the history books.

  • Mike C

    I’d love to see Mary Bonauto be the one won the first and the last case. A great story for history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmHeP9Sve48

  • delk

    Not only two great choices, but the whole team is a force to be seriously reckoned with.

  • Bill Harnsberger

    We shop at the same grocery store as Mary. That’s kind of…weirdly cool. Great choice.

  • billbear1961
    • billbear1961

      Just saw Joe’s updates!

  • Leo

    I’ve been watching Mary Bonauto clips for historical context.

    My recent favorite, lots of good background:


  • Another important step towards the Oral arguments, drawing very close now. Our side has a much easier task when it comes to prepping in that we have actual arguments to make. The representation for the other side is stuck with a bunch of terrible arguments that don’t hold up at all in court.