Thursday, July 23, 2009

SF City Attorney Petitions to Join

Boies/Olson Prop 8 Lawsuit

If you read the July 21 story in The Recorder legal paper, all about the latest skirmishing between the Ted Olson/David Boies legal team and three gay groups, Lambda Legal, ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, wanting to be parties to the case, you learned a bit more about why the legal superstars who brought the suit don't want the gay groups involved as parties:
Theodore Boutrous Jr., a member of the Olson/Boies team, said Friday that gay rights lawyers "misinterpreted our position."

"Our point at the hearing," he added, "was we thought it made sense to see if there are issues on which the parties agree. Ted Olson said whatever and whenever the chief judge would like us to present evidence on any issues, we are ready, willing and able to do so." ...

Boutrous, a partner in Gibson's L.A. office, said having multiple parties involved could cause complications. Prop 8 proponents have already intervened, he noted, and both the city of San Francisco, which favors gay marriage, and Liberty Counsel, a group that opposes it, have also made noises about joining the suit.

"If you start having broader organizations come in," Boutrous said, "that just takes the focus away from the fact we have real constitutional violations of real people."
The article also looked at the potential for San Francisco's City Attorney's office to also petition the judge to be allowed to be party to the lawsuit:
Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart confirmed Friday that San Francisco is contemplating intervention and likewise wants to ensure a complete factual record.
According to this order from Judge Vaughn R. Walker, tomorrow is the deadline for everyone wishing to be a party to the case to file their petitions.

Today, the SF City Attorney filed his motion to be a party, according to a release from his office:
City Attorney Dennis Herrera today petitioned a U.S. District Court Judge to allow the City and County of San Francisco to intervene as a party plaintiff in a federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that eliminated the fundamental right of marriage for gay and lesbian citizens in California. The American Foundation for Equal Rights seized national attention when it filed the original federal lawsuit in May on behalf of two California couples, in part for its impressive-if-improbable legal team of one-time political foes Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who faced off in the Bush vs. Gore U.S. Supreme Court case that decided the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.
And why does Herrara want in on this matter? For some very legitimate reasons:
"San Francisco is a singularly well-prepared co-plaintiff in this case, both in terms of the wealth of evidence it has already developed, and its unique public sector perspective in having to enforce a discriminatory law," said Herrera. "Under Judge Walker's stewardship, this federal action has taken the exact turn that the City alone advocated in our previous litigation. We are long overdue to put anti-gay discrimination on trial based on the facts. The San Francisco City Attorney's Office has the experience and expertise to aggressively assist in doing precisely that."
If I'm reading Walker's order correctly, the matter of additional parties being added to either side will be decided on August 19. Let's see how the Boies/Olson team reacts to the move by SF's City Attorney, as we wait for Walker to decide the matter next month.

Click here to read the city's motion.


Anonymous said...

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IWood said...

"...that just takes the focus away from the fact we have real constitutional violations of real people."

See, this is what bugs me about the whole wacky California process. The State constitution was amended. So there are no constitutional violations, at least at the state level. What do you do when the supposed guarantor of civil rights is routinely subject to amendment by popular vote? Kind of defeats the purpose of the document. Heaven forbid the state takes a turn towards the Nazi and 51% of the populace decides that Jews need fashionable armbands (hey, Prop 8 won in LA county, it could happen).

Frankly, I feel like I *must* be missing something can't be as wacky as it seems, can it? Is there anything that would prevent this from becoming an eternal game of ballot initiative ping pong? And if there isn't, why is the "Prepare to Delay--" er, "Prevail" crowd so convinced that the issue will stay settled if we just patiently follow their 8-point plan? It seems to me that there's something systemically screwy when civil rights are subject to repeated popular votes...