Pre-Law Club Listens to Supreme Court DOMA and Prop 8 Oral Arguments

The Pre-law club held a listening party about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court regarding Proposition Eight and the Defense of Marriage Act on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27 in Young Auditorium.

Club advisor Dr. Gregory Bordelon said that the showing for the Proposition Eight arguments had about 10 to 15 students, but the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) arguments led to a full room of students and faculty.

Bordelon said the most interesting part of the arguments was the mixture of law and policy. “Often times, when political forces clash with the courts, you see the latter frame the issues in very different terms – terms that are addressed in a legal framework.  It’s what courts do and we saw that clearly in the substantial amount of time spent on each oral argument on matters of jurisdiction, standing and procedural matters,” said Bordelon.

Bordelon said that students are not exposed to the working of the judiciary enough. “The President is covered by the media the most, Congress is covered by the positions of party leadership in that branch, but rarely are we exposed to the ins and outs of the judiciary,” said Bordelon.

With same-sex marriage being a high profile topic, Bordelon believes that it will lead to more media coverage similar to the Affordable Health Care Act which news outlets, at first, incorrectly reported the results.

With DOMA and Proposition 8 being covered heavily, Bordelon said the Supreme Court will be cautious because the court’s role is to settle disputes, not set social justice policies. “I think with social justice matters, courts want to be particularly careful about their role in addressing these within the context of the political discussion,” said Bordelon.

According to the CBS Poll from March 20-24, 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, 39 percent oppose, and 8 percent are undecided.

A Washington Post/ABC Poll from March 7-10 indicated that 58 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage while 36 percent oppose but also indicated that 52 percent of GOP-leaning independents under 50-years-old now support gay marriage.

Anthony Giannopoulos, political science major and treasurer of the pre-law club, said this is a topic that the younger generations of Americans should be paying attention to.

Giannopoulos said, “The definition and stability of the foundation of marriage has continued to change over the years due to factors such as growing numbers of divorce, sexual promiscuity and homosexual relationship. Although it is hard to say if any of these changes have been ‘good’ for the foundation of marriage, they are important issues to be aware of, especially for young adults college students.”

Giannopoulos said, “Many college students create life-long relationships in college and therefore could be heavily affected by this case, depending on the eventual decision. If the federal government is allowed to deny homosexual partners of the same rights that heterosexual partners possess, this may cause many college students to stray away from a same-sex relationship, even if they truly desire one.”

Hearing cases like this allows people to make their own decision instead of just seeing what the Supreme Court says.

“Most people follow the opinions that the Supreme Court creates after revealing their holding, but listening to the oral arguments allows individuals to create their own opinion on the matter. With this kind of delicate legal issue at hand, it is important for students to hear how both sides argued their case,” said Giannopoulos.

This has become more of policy issue versus legal, according to Giannopoulos. “It seemed that the Supreme Court attempted to show the other branches of government that they are indeed co-equal and were therefore not going to stand for being used as a mechanism for solving any issues with their political agend