Two University of the Pacific alumni will be breaking a long-standing tradition in the U.S. Supreme Court this month will argue opposite sides of the landmark same-sex marriage case known as Proposition 8.
Beating the Odds: Pacificans Will Play Key Role in “Case of the Decade” Prop 8On March 26, two Pacific Alumni, Theodore Olson '62 and Andy Pugno '99, will face off before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark same-sex marriage case, Hollingsworth vs. Perry. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Pacific McGeorge School of Law faculty member, will be among the judges to hear the case.
Two University of the Pacific alumni will be breaking a long-standing tradition in the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday when they stand on opposite sides of the landmark same-sex marriage case known as Proposition 8.
It will be a historic moment in the U.S. legal system: a recent study of the Supreme Court and numerous articles—including one in Time Magazine—points out that the justices and most of the attorneys who present before the nation's highest court are graduates of prestigious Ivy League schools.
To have two attorneys from the same alma mater represent both sides—and not be from one of the Ivies—is practically unheard of. Time Magazine has noted that every member of the Supreme Court except Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who graduated from Columbia, is either a Harvard or Yale graduate. Other articles have pointed out that the majority of attorneys who present in front of the court also tend to come from those same schools or Princeton.
But on March 26, Pacific will be well represented when College of the Pacific alumnus Theodore Olson '62 and Andy Pugno '99, a graduate of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and general counsel of the group defending Proposition 8, face off in Hollingsworth vs. Perry. Pugno's group has hired Charles J. Cooper, a champion of conservative causes, to argue in defense of Propospition 8. There will be an additional representative from Pacific with the presence of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a faculty member at Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
While there are no solid statistics readily available that estimate how many attorneys from the Ivy League circuit present before the U.S. Supreme Court, a study conducted in 1992 by Kevin McGuire and published in the American Journal of Political Science said that more than 50 percent of all attorneys registered to argue before the Supreme Court, come from Ivy League Schools. The study also said that most of the cases that come before the court are represented by a group of 200 attorneys who all live in the Washington, D.C. area, and nearly all those lawyers are Harvard and Yale graduates. Therefore, at least one of the two attorneys would typically be from one of the elites in any given case.
In this seminal case, the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 is being challenged. The law, which defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman, was passed by a majority of Californians in 2005.
|Theodore B. Olson '62||U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy||Anthony Pugno '99|
Olson, a well-known conservative attorney who once represented President George W. Bush, filed a lawsuit challenging the law, claiming it violated California's Constitution.
Pugno, who served as the attorney for ProtectMarriage.com, defended the law before the courts, claiming that if the California voters approved it, then the law was constitutional. Both the California Supreme Court and the federal Appeals Court have since struck down Proposition 8.
Many pundits believe that the Supreme Court's decision on this case will be split along ideological lines, with only one justice as the "swing," or deciding vote on the case. It has been speculated that the swing vote will come from Kennedy, who has been a faculty member at Pacific McGeorge since 1965 and still teaches an annual summer course on constitutional law.
Short biographies on all three men and their connections to the case can be found in an earlier story on Pacific's Connections to the Proposition 8 Case.
The drama of the case will also play out on stage in the next few weeks—literally—when students, faculty and staff perform 8—The Play, a dramatic reenactment of the previous court trial that has led to the Supreme Court appeal. Members of the current University community will portray alumni Olson and Pugno on stage. Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman is among the local dignitaries invited to participate as walk-on readers. Eggman, who will play Dr. Segura, will read a short monologue during the presentation. Eggman was elected in November 2012 to represent the 13th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Stockton, Tracy, Thornton and Mountain House. She is an associate professor of social work at California State University, Sacramento, and she has taken a leave of absence to serve in the State Assembly. For more information about the April 8 performance, visit 8-The Play on the Pacific Events Calendar.
So, this is a trial some are calling the "case of the decade" being argued by two Pacific graduates, decided by a Pacific professor, and then performed by Pacific students as a play. What are the odds?
|For more information about the domination of the Ivy Leagues on the Supreme Court, the following articles were used as references: Clarence Thomas breaks 7-year court silence, with crack about Harvard Law: Yale, Harvard Law Taking Over Supreme Court; Lawyers and the U.S. Supreme Court: The Washington Community and Legal Elites: Is the Supreme Court Too Packed With Ivy Leaguers?