Theodore Channeling Thurgood?

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Thurgood Marshall (L) and Theodore Olson (R) (Photos: Library of Congress)

Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (L) and Attorney Theodore Olson (R) (Photos: Library of Congress)

When attorney Theodore Olson announced he was taking up the cause of gay marriage and challenging Prop. 8, many liberal (and conservative for that matter) jaws dropped. The left was suspicious -- why would the former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and a member of the Reagan administration suddenly want to champion gay marriage? And in federal court no less, where it’s always been assumed it would be hard to get five votes to revise laws on marriage. Was it a ruse? A trojan horse designed to undercut the left? Olson insists it’s consistent with his longstanding opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation. And another reason -- or at least a side benefit to Olson -- is becoming clear. This case could potentially elevate his status in the annals of legal history (and the media). Olson’s “conservative case for gay marriage” graces the cover of the current issue of Newsweek. Many legal analysts see this Prop. 8 case as potentially the most important civil rights case since 1954, when “separate but equal” segregated schools were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education. The attorney for plaintiff Linda Brown was Thurgood Marshall, who later went on to become a liberal voice on the Supreme Court. Could that make Olson a latter day Marshall? Given Marshall's left leaning views, that comparison might not be the one Olson is seeking. In the meantime, it isn't hurting his stature as a legal maverick.

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