White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked today if the administration planned to take a public stance on the Supreme Court's consideration of the Proposition 8 case, "in particular some of the broader questions raised by that case, including whether or not the Constitution protects the rights of same-sex couples to marry? "
"Well, I appreciate the question, but for comment on the court's actions on that case I would point you to the Department of Justice. As you know the administration is not a party to this case and I just have nothing more for you on it."
Attorney Ted Olson told reporters in a conference call following last week's SCOTUS announcement:
"I would hate to predict what the United States government is doing, but given the stand the president of the United States and the attorney general of the United States made with respect to marriage equality, we would certainly hope that they would participate…And I'm quite confident that if they did participate that they would support our position in this case that the denial of equal rights is subject to close scrutiny by the courts and cannot withstand that scrutiny. It's a denial of rights, and it's quite clear that it is."
It's something Obama needs to do, according to the Washington Post's Greg Sargent:
This would be a big, big move on the administration’s part. And Obama must do it, for two reasons. First, because it could help influence the Supreme Court to reach a broad conclusion on the constitutionality of gay marriage. Second, weighing in could help prepare public opinion to accept this right, too.
The Supreme Court’s decision to weigh in on California’s Prop 8 may be even more important than the decision to weigh in on the Defense of Marriage Act. If the Supreme Court adopts a broad ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional because it violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the constitution — as opposed to a narrower ruling that can only be applied in California — that will effectively enshrine the federal constitutional right to marry, meaning it’s only a matter of time until all state statutes banning gay marriage are ruled unconstitutional.
Obama, of course, has said he personally favors gay marriage and has come out against Prop 8. But his administration has not clarified whether it sees Prop 8 as unconstitutional (as it has in the narrower DOMA case).