Oral arguments in marriage case

via WAVY.com

Oral arguments were heard today in Norfolk in the case of Bostic v Rainey. I was there for most of the arguments. I’ll have more thoughts on it but I saw this drawing on WAVY and thought I’d share. The drawing, though, doesn’t do justice to what it felt like for me in that courtroom.

This was the first time I’d ever been in this courtroom and it was quite imposing. I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall, seeing the room from the judge’s perspective.

I didn’t realize, until I read this article, that the judge had considered not having oral arguments. I don’t know what that means in the big scheme of things – after all, aren’t the oral arguments just a summary of the ones made on paper? – but I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough.


10 thoughts on “Oral arguments in marriage case

  1. Oral argument also lets the judge ask any questions that he or she may have. It is a time to highlight the strongest points in your case, not just rehash everything that you have written. Certainly not in this case or the U.S. District Court in general, the judge may not have read the briefs before the hearing. With that said, I question whether oral argument has ever changed a judge’s mind.

    1. I suspect that most judges who are familiar with the law surrounding the controversy and are intellectually curious about how they’ll eventually decided the case have already anticipated most of the answers to the question’s they’ll ask. When judges bump up against areas of the law with which they have limited personal experience or come up against a case over which they truly can’t muster the time and energy to hold a personal opinion, I imagine the oral arguments can be a time saver.

      I imagine there has also been more than one case where a judge in his sixties has asked an attorney in his thirties how email works (or something like that).

      1. Oral arguments also often refer to how a law is applied, in the opinion of the lawyers representing the enforcing agents (or agency) as opposed to how it was intended to apply in theory. The best example is probably the Citizens United decision where Kagan (as solicitor general) was asked whether current law (at the time) could be used to ban books that were written transcriptions of campaign materials. She answered yes and that basically formed the foundation of the ruling.

  2. I would have loved to have been in that court room for the oral arguments. I remember back in 2000/2001 being totally taken with David Boies’ calm demeanor in FL as he battled to keep the presidential votes being counted. I’m no lawyer, but I thought he was a genius at the time. And, then when he and Ted Ols0n started working as a team on the CA cases, it struck me as so interesting that these two guys who been at such opposite ends of that big election fight were now working together. We just never know what life has in store for us, do we? Although these two men were probably never enemies, but rather doing their job at the end of the 2000 election, still, I never thought I’d see them on the same side of any issue.

    That must have been quite interesting and exciting Vivian. I haven’t been in that building in years. I did sit on a grand jury one time a couple years after the building became the federal court bldg. And, really, with all the ripping down of Norfolk’s old building, I’m thrilled the place is still standing. Can’t wait to hear all about the goings on today.

  3. Why is Norfolk’s Clerk of Court defending the law? It makes me angry that he has not stood up to it. I think he should have a primary challenge.

    1. Even when you want a law to be struck down, it can sometimes be a problem for your position if the government *doesn’t* enforce or defend the law because in the absence of a genuine dispute, a court may decline to rule. Even while Schaefer may hope to see the law eventually struck down, that couldn’t have happened if he’d declined to enforce the law because Bostic and London would not have had legal standing to challenge it.

      In other words, cut the guy some slack. He’s actually doing you a favor.

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