The Obama administration will file a brief in the Proposition 8 case before the Supreme Court, NBC News reported Thursday afternoon.
"Administration officials say the Justice Department will urge the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California, wading into the protracted legal battle over Proposition 8 and giving gay-rights advocates a new court ally," NBC's Pete Williams reported.
Obama Justice Dept to file Supreme Court amicus brief today opposing Prop 8 in Calif and expressing support for same-sex marriage to resume.— Pete Williams (@PeteWilliamsNBC) February 28, 2013
The report did not indicate specifics of the brief, or how the administration will argue. They could argue narrowly, stating that it was unconstitutional for California to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry after already granting them that right, or they could argue broadly that the Constitution protects the right of all same-sex couples to marry. The administration has already filed a brief in the Defense of Marriage Act case, urging the high court to strike down the federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex marriage.
The news comes shortly after White House press secretary referred a number of questions today from reporters on the Proposition 8 case to the Department of Justice. As recently as yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News that the Justice Department was still looking at the case.
"From my perspective, this is really the latest civil-rights issue," Holder said of marriage equality. "It is the question of whether or not American citizens are going to be treated with equal protection of the laws. And so with regard to Prop. 8, we’re in the process now of deciding what position we’re gonna take."
A brief from the Obama administration would be a major victory for advocates, who have urged the president to weigh in since the Supreme Court announced in December that it would hear arguments on the case challenging California’s same-sex marriage ban. A number of briefs will be filed in the Proposition 8 case, including one signed by more than 100 Republicans arguing same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
The filing deadline for "friend of the court briefs" in the Proposition 8 case is today with oral arguments scheduled to begin March 26.
[Photo: Barack Obama (Official White House photo by Pete Souza).]