February 21, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
White House still has no comment on Prop 8
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continues to have no comment on the Prop 8 case (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continues to have no comment on the Prop 8 case. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Just one week before the deadline to participate in the Prop 8 case, the Obama administration continues to play coy as to whether it will file a friend-of-the-court brief against the measure before the Supreme Court.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney directed questions on Thursday from CBS News to the Justice Department on whether the administration would file a brief, saying he doesn’t have a “hint for you either way” on whether the administration will speak out against Prop 8.

“I think you have seen no expression from the president on the constitutional or legal aspects of this,” Carney said. “He has an opinion, obviously, about Proposition 8 as policy, but we have no comment and nothing to say at this point about an issue that is properly looked at as a legal and constitutional matter over at the Department of Justice.”

Carney’s remarks are more neutral than what President Obama said on Wednesday during an interview with San Francisco’s KGO-TV that his Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is looking at whether it will participate.

“The solicitor general is still looking at this,” Obama said. “I have to make sure that I’m not interjecting myself too much into this process — particularly when we’re not a party to the case. I can tell you though, obviously, my personal view, which is I think same-sex couples have the same rights and should be treated like everybody and that’s something that I feel very strongly about, and my administration is acting on it wherever we can.”

Obama’s remarks are consistent with an Associated Press article that came out on the same day reporting that the Justice Department is considering whether to intercede in the case, but no final decision has been made.

LGBT advocates have been calling on Obama to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the lawsuit, which they say would show solidarity from Obama and bolster chances that justices would rule against the measure. The filing is due before the court on Feb. 28.

During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Ted Olson, one of the plaintiffs’ co-counsels in the Prop 8 case, said he hasn’t received word about whether the Justice Department will take part in the case, but “would very much like” the Obama administration to file a brief.

Olson said his team has visited with the solicitor general and made arguments about why it would be important for him to file a brief against Prop 8.

But even if the administration doesn’t file a brief, Olson said Obama made clear that gay couples deserve equal treatment under the law when he said during his inauguration speech, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

 

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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