Chief Justice John Roberts will likely vote to overturn California’s gay marriage ban, said a source very close to the Supreme Court judge.
Roberts’ first cousin, a lesbian, said she plans to be in the courtroom for Tuesday’s oral arguments regarding California’s Prop 8. It will be the first time the Supreme Court has taken on gay marriage, and 48-year-old Jean Podrasky said she plans to be there to see John Roberts vote to overturn it.
“He is a smart man,” Podrasky told the Los Angeles Times. “He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction.”
To get the seats, Podrasky said she talked to Roberts’ sister, and though Roberts’ hasn’t said publicly which way he will vote, the move seems to imply that he will be voting to void Prop 8.
Opponents to Prop 8 have framed the court case as a civil rights issue, saying that the law denies same-sex couples the right to marry. A ruling against Prop 8 could invalidate dozens of other state laws banning gay marriage, though experts said that could be a long shot.
Roberts’ vote on the issue could be key. Though he has voted with conservatives on many issues, Roberts is known to go against them, as he did in the ruling last summer upholding ObamaCare.
Roberts has also worked on marriage rights before, giving pro-bono legal advice to gay activists in Colorado while he was a practicing attorney, helping them to overturn a state law that nullified anti-discrimination statutes against gays and lesbians.
“He was part of a culture of legal professionals who were increasingly sympathetic to their gay and lesbian colleagues and the cause of sexual orientation equality,” said Loyola Law Professor Doug NeJaime. “I don’t read Chief Justice Roberts as having the same opinon as Alito, Scalia and Thomas.”
If John Roberts does vote to overturn Prop 8, he would join a growing number of conservatives who have spoken out against gay marriage bans. A group of more than 75 Republicans recently signed a letter asking the court to overturn the law, and high ranking Republicans like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman have changed course to support marriage rights for gays and lesbians.