Bench Memos

Influencing Ted Olson

Ted Olson and his anti-Prop 8 media machine have been aggressively leveraging his past associations with conservative legal causes in support of his newfound support for the invention of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  In so doing, they’ve tried to obscure the fact that the position that the Constitution can and should be interpreted to invalidate traditional marriage laws can’t possibly be reconciled with the conservative legal principles that Olson used to purport to stand for.  (I’m not addressing here the very different question whether a conservative can soundly support legislative revision of marriage laws to include same-sex couples.)

For anyone who has wondered what really accounts for Olson’s new position, I pass along these excerpts from a New York Times article last week on the influence of Lady Booth Olson, Olson’s wife since 2006:

Lady Olson was more than just a minor behind-the-scenes player in this potentially pivotal case.

“Lady could not have been more supportive of this,” Mr. Olson said in an interview shortly before Vaughn R. Walker, chief judge of the United States District Court hearing the case, ruled on Aug. 4 that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. “And she’s certainly influenced my views — her ideas, her approach, her feelings.” …

Mr. Olson’s previous wife, Barbara, was a conservative commentator who was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when she was on the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Some friends hypothesize that Lady Olson just might have softened some of her husband’s views.

“In my innermost thoughts, I like to think he thought that on some level, but Ted’s never said that,” Mrs. Olson said. “He’s very proud. He owns his own decisions.”

I think that I’ll refrain from further comment.

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