This post also appears on scotusblog.com. Lyle Denniston is the author.
Under gentle pressure from the Supreme Court not to split up the argument on single questions, the legal teams supporting same-sex marriage have settled on one lawyer to present each issue. The teams thus have abandoned their earlier request to let four lawyers appear on their side — along with a federal government lawyer — at the April 28 hearing.
After apparently lengthy bargaining, the same-sex marriage side has decided that long-time gay rights advocate Mary L. Bonauto will argue the first question: whether the states are required to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. An experienced Washington, D.C., advocate, Douglas-Hallward-Driemeier, will handle the second question: can states be required to recognize existing same-sex marriages performed in other states for residents of a state that bans such unions? Ms Bonauto won the first court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 2003.
The Court has scheduled two-and-a-half-hours of oral argument on the four granted cases. Ninety minutes of that time will be devoted to the marriage question, and one hour to the recognition issue.
The plaintiffs in the case proposed to the Court that their side of the marriage question be divided, with the couples’ lawyer having thirty minutes and the lawyer from the government — probably Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. — fifteen minutes.
The states defending their bans on same-sex marriage or recognition had announced last month that they will be represented by former Michigan Solicitor General John J. Bursch arguing the marriage question and an associate solicitor general for Tennessee, Joseph L. Whalen, on the recognition issue.