Federal Prop 8 Challenge Filed

[The unanimous opposition of LGBT legal and political groups is discussed here.]

Ted Olson, President George W. Bush’s Solicitor General and counsel for him in Bush v. Gore, and David Boies, best known for leading the Justice Department lawsuit against Microsoft and then representing Vice President Al Gore in Bush v. Gore, are teaming up to have filed a case in federal court on May 22 challenging Proposition 8.  The suit is being brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group with which I am completely unfamiliar — as is Google.

I’m not quite clear where this came from, or why, but it’s sure to be raising a lot of questions in coming days.

Olson told The Advocate:

“For a long time I’ve personally felt that we are doing a grave injustice for people throughout this country by denying equality to gay and lesbian individuals,” Olson said in an interview with The Advocate. “The individuals that we represent and will be representing in this case feel they’re being denied their rights. And they’re entitled to have a court vindicate those rights.”

Bush’s S.G., a leader for marriage equality.  Go figure.

I’m interested in what others, particularly folks at Freedom to Marry and Equality California, think about this development.

[UPDATE:  The Complaint, all 10 pages of it, can be found here (pdf) at Law Dork.

Media coverage:

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is basically non-existent, save for a Twitter account, Facebook page and the Web site whose only content is links to those two pages.  Although I have reasons to trust the genuine support that each man -- Boies and Olson -- brings to this mission, I have no knowledge, thus far, that anyone knew about or expected this lawsuit.  So, what gives?]

[FURTHER UPDATE: The news release about the suit has been issued.  The Web site has been expanded.  The full release can be found below the jump.]

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Not for Publication or Broadcast
Contact: Yusef Robb, Griffin|Schake


Attorneys Argued Bush v. Gore on Opposite Sides; Now Joined to Strike Down Prop. 8

Filing also calls for injunction against same-sex marriage ban until case is resolved, which would immediately reinstate the right for all Californians to marry

EDS: The news conference may be viewed live online at www.equalrightsfoundation.org

LOS ANGELES – Theodore B. Olson and David Boies will announce a federal court challenge to Proposition 8 on Wednesday, May 27 at 9:30 a.m. in Downtown, LA. The suit was filed by two same-sex couples who wish to be married but have been denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General, represented George W. Bush in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, which decided the presidential election. Boies represented Al Gore in that case. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel. The case is a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

The suit also calls for an injunction against Proposition 8 until the case is resolved, which would immediately reinstate marriage rights for same sex couples.

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s law prohibiting same sex marriage was unconstitutional under the privacy, due process and equal protection guarantees of the California Constitution. Proposition 8 was passed in November 2008 to amend the California Constitution to eliminate the equal rights it guaranteed to same sex couples.  On May 26, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 as a valid amendment to the State’s Constitution.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 27, 9:30 a.m.

WHAT: Theodore B. Olson & David Boies announce federal court challenge to Prop. 8.

WHERE: Biltmore Hotel, Emerald Room (Lobby Level)
506 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071


The case is a project of the newly created American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American through legal, policy and political advocacy.

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About the Author

Chris Geidner is the award-winning senior political & legal reporter at BuzzFeed and has written for Metro Weekly, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect, Advocate.com, Salon and other publications, as well as at his blog, Law Dork. He has appeared regularly on television commenting on current affairs, including MSNBC, PBS, HLN & Current. Prior to moving to D.C. in 2009, he served as an attorney on the senior staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office and had earlier worked for a leading Columbus law firm. An extended biography can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter.