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Three Pacificans to Play Lead Roles in Proposition 8 Case

Two alumni and a law professor from University of the Pacific are likely to be key players in the same-sex marriage case
by Patrick GiblinFeb 8, 2012

Regardless of one's opinions about gay marriage or California's Proposition 8, which was overturned Tuesday by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, there is one unchallenged fact: three members of the University of the Pacific community are attracting nationwide attention because of the debate.

Pacific graduate Ted Olson '62 is one of two lead attorneys who successfully convinced a federal judge to overturn Proposition 8, a voter-approved law that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state. If this advances to the U.S. Supreme Court, Olson is likely to argue the case. Andy Pugno '99, a Pacific McGeorge graduate, was the lead attorney for ProtectMarriage.com, the coalition that defended Proposition 8 in the federal case.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a faculty member at the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, is the swing vote that legal analysts believe might ultimately decide the case in one direction or the other. Kennedy has been an adjunct professor at Pacific McGeorge since 1965.

Ted Olson '62

Attorney Ted OlsonOlson is a 1962 graduate of College of the Pacific on the Stockton campus. He received his bachelor's degree cum laude with awards as the outstanding graduating student in both journalism and forensics. He later received a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

He served as assistant attorney general of the United States in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan White House and defended President Reagan during the Iran-Contra hearings. He returned to private practice in 1984 and subsequently argued numerous cases before the United States Supreme Court.

His most famous case was in 2000, when he represented George W. Bush in the U.S. Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore, which asked for a delay in certification of the national election until a recount could be conducted in Florida. Olson successfully convinced the Court that such a delay would be detrimental to the United States, effectively making Bush the next president.

In 2001, Olson was appointed Solicitor General for the United States, a position he held until 2004 when he returned to private practice. During his time in the Bush Administration, Olson was rumored to have been one of the finalists to be appointed to the Supreme Court when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced she was retiring to care for her ailing spouse.

To many conservatives' surprise, in 2009 Olson teamed up with attorney David Boies, the person who represented Al Gore in the Bush v. Gore case, to challenge the recently passed Proposition 8. After successfully convincing a federal judge to overturn the law, Olson was named by Time magazine as one of "The 100 Greatest Thinkers of Our Time" in 2010. In 2011, both Olson and Boies were awarded the highest medal offered by the American Bar Association.

Olson later wrote an op-ed piece for Newsweek magazine (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/01/08/the-conservative-case-for-gay-marriage.html) arguing that "true conservatives' would support same-sex marriage because it supports commitment to families, is an equal rights issue established in the U.S. Constitution, and that private practices between consenting adults is none of the government's business.

Seal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Proposition 8 Ruling

The Appellate Court of the Ninth Circuit District issued a ruling on Feb. 8, 2012 that said Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court where two Pacific graduates and a Pacific professor could play key roles in the final outcome. Click "more" read the Appellate Court ruling more

Andy Pugno '99

Attorney Andy PugnoAndy Pugno started his political career early, working in 1995 for California Assemblyman Pete Knight at the age of 22. He graduated from Pacific McGeorge in 1999. After years of practicing law in a downtown Sacramento firm and serving as an assistant city attorney for several small cities in the region, Pugno gave up the daily commute to open his own law office serving the suburban areas of Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer Counties, where he specializes in estate law.

In 2000, Pugno served as the chief attorney for Proposition 22, a law written by Knight that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. It passed, but was invalidated by the state Supreme Court in 2008. One month after the court overturned Proposition 22, signatures were being gathered for Proposition 8. Pugno was named general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, the main proponents for the law. He was one of the attorneys who defended the law in federal court. If it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, he could be one of the attorneys to argue the case there.

Professor Anthony Kennedy

Kennedy, a Sacramento native, practiced law in Northern California from 1961 until 1975. In 1975, he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit by President Ford. He was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 by President Reagan.

He has been a faculty member at University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento since 1965. For the past 22 years has taught a course on Fundamental Rights in Europe and the United States as part of Pacific McGeorge's Summer Salzburg Program.

During his time on the Supreme Court, Kennedy has played the role of the "swing vote," voting with conservative judges in some cases, and liberal judges in others.

On the issue of homosexual rights, Kennedy could rule either way, analysts are saying this week. In the 1996 case Romer v. Evans, Kennedy voted to overturn a Colorado law that prohibited homosexuals from filing discrimination lawsuits.  In the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, Kennedy authored the majority opinion that struck down Texas' anti-homosexual sodomy laws.

Justice Anthony KennedyHowever, in the 2000 case Boy Scouts of American v. Dale, Kennedy voted with the conservative justices to allow the Boy Scouts of America to ban homosexuals from being scout masters.

Proposition 8

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. Supporters of Proposition 8 can now either appeal to a full 11-judge panel of the Appellate Court or they can submit the case directly to the United States Supreme Court.

Many legal analysts said Tuesday that if the case goes to the Supreme Court, four justices will most likely uphold the appellate court ruling, while four will probably overturn it. What is not known, analysts said, is how Justice Anthony Kennedy will vote.

about the author

Patrick Giblin   Patrick Giblin is the media relations manager at Pacific since 2006 and also oversees all social media for the University.

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