Obama Administration Fears Supporting Gay Marriage Could Annoy Conservative Justices

Antonin Scalia

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The Obama administration has until Thursday to decide whether it will file a “friend of the court” brief in a Supreme Court fight over California’s gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8.The president personally supports gay marriage. However, Justice Department lawyers aren’t sure the federal government should go as far as to say there should be a constitutional right to gay marriage across the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night, citing people familar with the matter.

“[A]dministration lawyers worry that taking such an expansive view in legal briefs could unnerve some justices in the Supreme Court’s conservative wing, the people familiar with the matter said,” the Journal reported.

The Obama administration isn’t actually a part of the Proposition 8 case, but any arguments it makes in a brief to the court could be persuasive to the justices.

The Justice Department already filed an amicus brief in a seperate Supreme Court fight to repeal the defence of Marriage Act. That Clinton-era law defines marriage as between a man and a woman for federal law purposes.

In DOMA, the crux of the Obama administration’s argument is that the federal government should recognise same-sex marriages performed in states where they’re legal.

Obama has the chance to make a much more sweeping argument for a nationwide constitutional right to gay marriage in Prop 8.

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