American Dispatch: What’s In A Name?
By FOX News Radio’s Jared Halpern, who heard both days of arguments on same-sex marriage laws before the U.S. Supreme Court
“There she is!” an excited marriage equality demonstrator yelled as Edith Windsor, the elderly woman at the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act challenge emerged from the Supreme Court and walked down it’s iconic marble steps.
“Edie! Edie! Edie!” chanted the thousands of gay marriage advocates rallying outside the Court.
But, inside the court, the 83-year-old’s name was not uttered all by any of the Supreme Court Justices, save for Chief Justice Roberts announcing “We will hear argument this morning in Case 12-307, United States v. Windsor.”
In fact, Edith Windsor’s name wasn’t even mentioned during oral arguments by her attorney. Roberta Kaplan instead telling the justices, “my client was treated as unmarried when her spouse passed away.”
Attorney Vicki Jackson noted Windsor’s role in the case three times, but, only to caution the Justices on actually ruling on the case.
“Between the United States and Ms. Windsor there is no adversity,” Jackson argued. “They’re in agreement.”
In trying to convince the Justices they should rule on the merits, Attorney Paul Clement, representing House Republicans defending DOMA, mentioned the case’s namesake just twice.
“Ms. Windsor wants to point to the unfairness of the differential treatment of treating two New York married couples differently,” he remarks on the Constitutional question.
A day before the Court considered California’s Proposition 8, argued as Hollingsworth v. Perry.
The “Hollingsworth” in the case is Dennis Hollingsworth, a former California State Senator who spearheaded the ballot initiative to ban legal recognition of same-sex marriage in his state.
His name was not mentioned in oral arguments.
The “Perry” in the case is a woman named Kristin Perry. Her marriage to partner Sandy Stier was invalidated by Proposition 8.
As you guessed, neither name was actually spoken during arguments.
People are so often behind the Supreme Court’s most important rulings.
A slave’s 1857 appeal to the Supreme Court led to a ruling (later reversed) that African Americans were not citizens. That’s now simply known as the “Dred Scott” ruling.
“Brown v. Board” is now synonymous with racial integration. But in 1952, when the landmark case was first argued, Oliver Brown was one of a dozen parents demanding to send their children to the nearest whites-only school in Topeka, Kansas.
Brown’s name was named the lead plaintiff because he was the only male parent involved in the case.
The people named in the cases, the Supreme Court has often proven, are far less important than the legacy the cases bearing their names leaves.
Will Edith Windsor one day be remembered in the same light at Dred Scott or Oliver Brown?
We may find out in late June.
LISTEN to FOX News Radio’s Jared Halpern reporting from the U.S. Supreme Court: