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Gay Marriage Fight May Hinge On Supreme Court's Anthony Kennedy

Publication Date: 
February 08, 2012
Los Angeles Times
David G. Savage

Professor Pamela S. Karlan spoke with David Savage of the Los Angeles Times to discuss the importance of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's vote in upcoming gay rights opinions.

The Supreme Court has nine justices, but if the constitutional fight over same-sex marriage reaches them this year, the decision will probably come down to just one: a California Republican and Reagan-era conservative who has nonetheless written the court's two leading gay rights opinions.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 75, often holds the court's deciding vote on the major issues that divide its liberals and conservatives. More often than not, that vote has swung the court to the right. But on gay rights, Kennedy has been anything but a "culture wars" conservative.


"He is a California establishment Republican with moderately libertarian instincts," Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan said of Kennedy. "He travels in circles where he has met and likes lots of gay people."

Based on Kennedy's past opinions, Karlan is confident that if the Supreme Court takes up the issue of California's same-sex marriage ban, "it means Prop. 8 is going down to defeat," she said. "There is no way he will take it to reinstate" the ban.