Evan Wolfson reflects on the Supreme Court cases at the Cato Institute
March 28, 2013
Yesterday, Freedom to Marry Founder and President Evan Wolfson spoke at the CATO Institute about Hollingsworth v. Perry and Windsor v. United States. He shared words of caution about making predictions and urged listeners to continue the work of winning the freedom to marry, even as the Supreme Court Justices deliberate on what they will do and announce by June. You can check out the entire CATO Institute presentation HERE.
Here, we've excerpted Evan's opening comments from the panel:
We always say in front of every big argument that you can't judge from the argument and you shouldn't really read the questions and the back and forth - which were fast and furious, both days, and here particularly complex and contradictory - so that's what we all say, and then everyone immediately tells you what they think is going to happen. So I really want to underscore from both days the mix of questions and issues and constellations of Justices - and crankiness from some of the Justices, which you can attribute to either sort of feeling compelled to do something they're not comfortable doing, or not wanting to do something but feeling like they should - really makes it hard to say on the basis of these two arguments what's going to happen.
You really have to take every prediction you hear and read and see tweeted very, very skeptically. The Justices are going to go back and delve through a mountain of briefs in both cases, a huge amount of evidence and argument, they're going to be circulating opinions, and that's going to lead to challenges from Justices who think they're going to write it in a limited way or in a direction that way, and then understand that it may just not write the way they're trying to write it - let alone how the five come together. So I think there really is an important reason for caution from all of the predictions you're going to hear.
Having said that, there are two things we do know very clearly. One thing we know is that, while the Justices are doing their homework and going through the process I just described, the best single way we can maximize winning the freedom to marry and even getting the Justices to do the right thing as they deliberate in the Court, is to do what we've been doing: To continue winning more states and continue winning over hearts and minds. There are as many as four states that are going to be considering freedom to marry legislation and could pass those bills into law before the Court hands down its rulings, likely at the end of June. So the single biggest thing we can do to maximize our chances of winning is to continue growing the extraordinary "Who's Who" of America that have stepped up over the last many weeks and months supporting the freedom to marry, including in extraordinary amicus briefs and just in public discourse. All of that is what creates the climate and the momentum that encourages and emboldens and helps the Justices find the correct Constitutional and legal road map.
The other thing we know is that clearly, the freedom to marry has the momentum and has the winning stategy. The strategy that has brought us to this moment of hope is the strategy that will bring us the freedom to marry nationwide - whether in June, or in the round of work leading to going back to the Court as soon as possible. ...
I think it was clear that the chances of the Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act are far greater than the chances of not striking it down, and I think equal protections as well as federalism concerns are at play. It's particularly striking yesterday and today that no one in Court offered a reason to justify the denial of the freedom to marry or the Defense of Marriage Act. What the opponents were pushing was: "Don't move too fast, take your time, hit the pause button, don't do it now." Absent was any good argument for continuing this cruel and harsh discrimination against gay couples."