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Theodore Olson. Photograph by David Shankbone.
At a dinner for Georgetown University Law School's glbtq student group, Outlaw, renowned attorney and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson called the Proposition 8 case not just a high point in his illustrious 45-year career, but "the highlight of my life."
Catherine Ho reports in the Washington Post on March 18, 2012 that at the annual networking dinner hosted by his firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Olson said of the Proposition 8 case, "This has been the highlight of my life. This is the most important thing we've done in our lives. It's not just become a legal challenge, but it's about the hearts and minds of the country changing."
Olson, who has argued nearly 60 times before the Supreme Court of the United States, including in Bush v. Gore, which cemented George W. Bush's victory in the 2000 presidential election, and who served as Solicitor General of the United States, is (along with David Boies, his adversary in Bush V. Gore), lead counsel in the Proposition 8 case, now known as Perry v. Brown.
In Perry v. Brown, Olson and Boies contend that the California initiative that banned same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker in a historic decision declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ruling was recently upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where the defendants have requested a en banc review. It may well be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The dinner, which was held at the Washington, D.C. office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm, was attended by more than 60 students and attorneys, including Georgetown University Law Dean William Treanor.
Olson joined two Washington partners, Matthew McGill and Amir Tayrani, in a panel discussion about the Proposition 8 trial.
Olson remarked that Gibson Dunn's senior management made the case "the number one priority." There were, he said, more than 30 lawyers working on on case at any given time.
The panelists emphasized that they were intent on building a fact-heavy case. They called 17 expert witnesses, with specialties ranging from child development to psychology and political science to history, to testify at trial. In contrast, the opposition called only two witnesses.
Drawing laughs from the crowd, McGill dubbed David Boies "the great cross-examination machine," and recalled how he systematically deconstructed the views of the opposition's befuddled expert witness, David Blankenhorn, by reading to him passages from his own book in which he wrote about the benefits of adopting same-sex marriage."
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is a global law firm, headquartered in Los Angeles. It employs nearly 1,000 attorneys and over 2,000 staff members located in 17 offices around the world, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
In the video below, Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports on other recent marriage news.