On Scene with Bill Wilson at the Supreme Court

On Tuesday, March 26, I will be at the United States Supreme Court photographing an historic moment in the history of the GLBT movement and in the history of the United States. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Perry v Brown better known as the Prop 8 case. It is one of two gay marriages cases before the Supreme Court this term. It will not be the first time that I’ve witnessed history on the Supreme Court plaza. I worked as a clerical assistant for a United States Senator from April of 1972 until September of 1979 so I was living in Washington, DC during the Watergate scandal that ultimately ended with the Supreme Court ruling that President Nixon cold not claim executive privilege and withhold the tapes of White House involvement in covering up the Watergate burglary.

Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and his Assistant Philip Lacovara on the steps of the Supreme Court July 8, 1974.

I remember that day being very fortunate in being in the right place at the right time to get photos of lawyers from both sides of the issue. Nixon’s team was headed by James St. Clair.

James St. Clair represented Nixon as he sought to claim executive privilege prevented him from releasing tapes.

The day that the decision was announced in the Nixon tape case the Court was packed with interested spectators. People understood that the Supreme Court was going to decide whether the President of the Untied States was above the law. Fortunately for our democracy they decided he wasn’t and ordered him to release the tapes.

The Supreme Court Plaza on July 24, 1974 as people leave the Court after Nixon tapes decision was announced.

I was still living in Washington, DC in 1986 when the Hardwick case was argued before the Supreme Court. The decision in that case is what gives me pause when thinking of the outcomes of the Prop 8 case.

Laurence Tribe, who argued the Hardwick case, answers press questions after the oral arguments. March 31, 1986

However much has changed in the last twenty seven years, most notably the Hardwick decision was overturned by the Lawrence decision in 2004. While I feel that Scalia, Thomas and Alito will never vote to extend rights to GLBT people, I don’t see any other Justices wanting to follow their lead. No longer can any Justice say that they don’t know any gay people or that they didn’t think it was important.

Anti-Gay Protestor surveys the marriage equality supporters after the Ninth District Court of Appeals heard arguments.

Comments are closed.