Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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David Boies ’66LLB

He’s represented everyone from George Steinbrenner to Napster, from Michael Moore to disgraced Enron exec Andy Fastow. In his best-known case, Bush v. Gore, he became the face of the Democratic Party, scrapping with GOP lawyer Ted Olson over Florida’s hanging chads. This week, David Boies ’66LLB is in the news alongside his old rival, challenging the California referendum that banned gay marriage.

Boies and Olson, a conservative Republican, teamed up to represent the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger—two same-sex couples who contend that Proposition 8 violated their constitutional rights. The trial, which began January 11 in federal court in San Francisco, “will blur the existing partisan divide on the issue between conservatives and liberals,” the Economist predicts. On the trial’s second day, Boies et al. called expert witness George Chauncey ’77, ’89PhD, a Yale historian, to explain the history of discrimination against gays and lesbians in America.

Some gay-rights activists last year criticized Boies and Olson for their tactical decision to force the issue now. “How do you decide when the time is right to vindicate one’s constitutional rights?” Boies responds. “Both Ted and I feel we have more than five votes on the Supreme Court, but this issue isn’t going away. Plessy v. Ferguson was not the final word on segregation, nor will a defeat, if that happens, end this battle.”

Filed under Law School, lgbtq, civil rights
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