Former Bush lawyer sues to overturn Prop 8

Ted Olson joins his Bush v. Gore opponent in a suit that appears intended to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide

Published May 27, 2009 2:01AM (EDT)

Same-sex marriage makes strange bedfellows. Like Theodore Olson and David Boies, whose most famous encounter to date is Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 election. Olson was on the winning side, and went on to become solicitor general under the man he helped make president of the United States. Now the two men are on the same side of the law as counsel for plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California's Proposition 8. The suit appears intended to get Olson and Boies back before the U.S. Supreme Court, this time to argue that restrictions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

Along with other attorneys from their respective firms, Olson and Boies are representing two California couples -- one made up of two men, the other of two women -- who are suing state officials. They were enlisted for the effort by a new organization called the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is holding a press conference on Wednesday to officially announce the suit.

So far, the group is keeping mostly mum on the case, waiting until after the press conference, but the Associated Press reports that Olson hopes it will go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judging from the complaint, which can be downloaded in PDF form here, it appears that means the suit is intended to get the high court to rule on the constitutionality of restrictions on same-sex marriage around the country. (The suit itself is specifically about California and Prop 8, but the U.S. District Court in which it was filed only has jurisdiction in California; the case will have to get to a higher level before its resolution will have a broader impact.)

The complaint was filed on May 22, before the California Supreme Court's ruling that upheld Prop 8 was announced.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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