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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yale Law School Professors, Alumni Submit Amicus Briefs in Hollingsworth v. Perry


As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26, many with Yale Law School ties have submitted amici curiae briefs to the Court.

The Supreme Court will be hearing the case on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The key issues of the case are: (1) Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and (2) whether petitioners have standing under Article III, § 2 of the Constitution in this case.

In August, Yale Law School Professors William Eskridge ’78 and Bruce Ackerman ’67 joined others in an amicus brief that urged the Supreme Court to deny the petition for the writ of certiorari.

More recently, Professor Harold Hongju Koh joined fellow foreign and comparative law experts (including Yale Law School alums Sarah H. Cleveland ’92, Noah Novogrodsky ’94, and Ryan Goodman ’99) in an amicus brief that reads, in part: “From Brown to Roe to Lawrence to Perry, Yale Law School’s faculty and students have always spoken up for principles of liberty, privacy and equality.” — Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law

“Fifty-nine years ago, this Court rejected the doctrine of separate-but-equal in Brown v. Board of Education. Forty-six years ago, this Court overturned state law prohibitions on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. In the past twelve years, numerous democratic nations around the world have honored the equal protection legacy of this Court by rejecting separate civil unions and domestic partnership regimes for same-sex couples in favor of marriage equality. To preserve U.S. leadership in the field of personal freedom and human rights, the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.”

Recently, Professor Eskridge submitted a second brief, in which he joined law professors (including Northwestern Law Professor and YLS alumnus Andrew Koppelman ’89) who have written about the history and practice of judicial review with a special focus on issues involving sexual and gender minorities.

The Eskridge amicus brief argues that Proposition 8 violates the core meaning of the Equal Protection Clause, barring caste legislation adopted for the purpose of denigrating a minority. The brief documents the rise and decline of an anti-homosexual caste regime, of which targeted family law discrimination is an important component. Indeed, Eskridge documents that the central prejudice of that regime rests upon the stereotype of gay people as anti-family.

Professor Bruce Ackerman also recently signed on to a separate brief in which he joined with a group of Constitutional Law scholars (including Harvard Law School Professor and YLS alumnus Lawrence Lessig ’89) to write in favor of the respondents.

Watch an extended video of Professor William Eskridge discussing the marriage equality cases here.