U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Historic Same-Sex Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a historic case that could make gay marriage legal in every state. Four consolidated cases challenge laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee that ban same-sex marriage, refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, or both. Same-sex couples say those laws violate the constitution.

Paul J. Cambria, Jr., a nationally known criminal defense attorney who has argued cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, was asked to provide his analysis of the case for WBEN.

Hear the full interview at WBEN’s website.

Mr. Cambria noted that, while it’s hard to predict just from oral arguments how the court will decide, we know how some of the judges have voted on similar issues in the past. “I think we can get a pretty good idea of who will be on what side.”

Gay-marriage issues before the court

“One of the issues is: Is there a fundamental due-process right to marry? If so, are you denying couples equal protection if you don’t allow all couples to have that right?,” Mr. Cambria asked. “The second issue is: In those states where gay marriage has been recognized as lawful, is that status recognized in other states where they have not made it lawful, and must those states recognize other states’ marriages?

Asked if he thought the Supreme Court was likely to make a final decision on the issue of gay marriage with this case, Mr. Cambria said, “I think so. The counter argument by opponents [of gay marriage] will be . . .  ‘we’ve promoted all this dialogue, and you’re going to silence the dialogue if you make that ultimate decision.’ I think that’s a bogus argument. I think we’re more likely to have the Supreme Court say ‘look, we have controlled states in the past.’ For example, there used to be a law saying black and white people could not marry in certain states, and the Supreme Court said ‘you can’t do that.’ States are taking the position ‘it’s our right to decide, and not the federal government,’ and now it’s time for the federal government to weigh in and say ‘we’re going to resolve this once and for all.’”

How does it feel to argue before the Supreme Court?

Mr. Cambria was asked about his experience arguing three cases before the Supreme Court. “Of course, and you’re always second guessing everything. When you’re listening to judges during the course of your argument, you’re trying to determine whether they are just trying to get you to make an argument to help them put some other judge down who’s against your argument.”

“That happens typically,” he said. “A judge who is really on your side starts asking you questions that make people think that they’re not on your side, and the reason is they are trying to get you to explain why your argument should be accepted so they can use those things to persuade a fellow judge.”

About Paul Cambria

A senior partner in Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense in addition to providing criminal defense representation.