tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera May 11, 2014 3:00pm-3:31pm EDT
>> this is an area where our government discriminates against its own citizens leading trial lawyer david boies is fighting to bring marriage equality to every state. a battle he says is akin to the black civil rights movement. >> in the '60s, you had businesses saying we don't want to serve fragr fran americans. >> boies along with ted olson took on proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. the two friends were also add
versaries on another landmark u.s. supreme court case, bush versus gore. >> the leader of the free world was at stake. >> the high-powered litigator reflects on a personal struggle. >> what it demonstrates is that dislyslexia is not a it's a difference. >> i talked to david boies recently in new york. david boies, welcome. why did you get involved in the issue of gay marriage? >> i think it's a defining civil rights issue of our time. this is the one area, has been the one area in this country in which not only did we discriminate against people and there is a lot of discrimination that goes on, on a social basis, but this is an area where our government discriminates against its own citizens and has a last essential official bastion of discrimination, governmental discrimination. i think both ted olson and i thought it was particularly important that we try to bring an end of that. couple. >> yes.
>> how did this come being? >> well, although ted and i are quite opposed in a lot of respects in terms of our -- >> yeah. >> -- politics and we were obviously against each other in bush v. gore, we are good friends. we both always have, i think, respected each other. we looked for a case to work on together. and this was just the perfect case because not only was it an opportunity to work on something that was imports but it was an opportunity top work together to try to bring this country equality. right? >> well, i had some reservations about the case because of the opposition to the case by people in the gay and lesbian community who had worked on these issues for a long time. >> they said it was too soon? >> they said too far, too soon, we endangered the gains that they had made and because they
had devoted so much and knew so much about this area, that was counsel that would obviously give me concern. >> what's it like to be in a high-profile case like this, especially gay marriage? you have probably been the two most devices cases in our country's history, bush v. gore and gay marriage has been the issue that has divided the country for years. >> if i hadn't been a lawyer, i would have been a high school american history teacher like my father was. so in one respects, it's a privilege just to be at the scene and see history, history being made. but in addition, i think, one of the great things about a lawyer, about being a lawyer, is that you have a chance to fight for justice. i think on this case, on the gay marriage and the marriage equality issue, both of us believe that this was a critical issue for our justice system, that this was a critical step for this country to take in order to assure that everybody, regardless of race,
religion, national orientation, sexual orientation or any other distinguishing characteristic was an equal citizens in front of the law. >> why did you call the book "redeeming the dream"? >> the dream really was the dream of equality and that dream was realized in california in 2008 when the california supreme court held that all citizens of california were entitled to marriage equality, and then that dream was taken away in proposition 8, and so this was, in a sense, a redeeming of that dream. it was also redeeming the dream of equality and. >> martin luther king's dream? >> martin luther king so famously spoke about. >> you think there is a direct line between the civil rights movement and the movement for gay rights? >> i do. i think there is a direct line. it's not necessarily a straight line, but i think it's -- i think there is a direct line from the struggle of equality that this country has gone through over the years. it's involved race.
it's involved gender. it involves sexual orientation. it's involved relig. it's involved national origin. we have moved toward the dream of equality. our founders had great principles that all people were created equal and had certain inalienable rights. it was revolution arrest, a great principle. the problem was in those days, it really didn't apply. they didn't apply it. when our constitution says, "we, the people of the u.s." means we, white, male property owners. expanding the concept of who the "we" is in "we, the people" has been a process this country has gone through. i think that process is a direct line. >> has this effort moved faster through the courts than you thought it would have? >> i don't think it's moved faster through the courts than i thought it would.
i think that it has moved in expected. is public opinion driving the courts? >> i think the courts affect public opinion and i think sometimes public opinion affects the courts. i think there are two different trains that are going down the track right now: the legal train and the train in the court of public opinion. fortunately action i think both are going in the same direction, picking up speed. >> what's the legal issue here? here? >> the important legal issue is: does the state have the right to discriminate against certain of i was citizens based upon sexual orientation where that discrimination serves no legitimate public purpose? >>, one of the things we set out to prove at the trial was that discriminating against people based upon sexual orientation in terms of who could marry harmed
them and the children that they were raising. and even the defendant's experts agreed with that because it's clear when you deprive somebody of a right as fundamental as them. you hurt them emotionally, reputationally, their place in the community and economically and the same kind of damage is done to the children they are raising depriving people of anybody. is it heterosexual, my marriage, the fact my gay neighbor can't get married. there wasn't any legitimate purpose, it was a product of discrimination, a product of a belief that people were different based upon sexual orientation. and because that didn't serve any legitimate governmental interest, there was simply no governmental basis, no justification for discriminating based upon who could get married
and who couldn't get married. >> the loving versus virg case, how did that impact what you were doing? >> sure. it was a case in which the support held in 1967 that virginia's laws that banned interracial marriage were unconstitutional. and in that case, the court talks about how fundamental a right marriage is that was racial discrimination. it's interesting 13 years after brown versus board of education to get around to holding that bans and interracial marriage were just as discriminatory were bans on children going to the same schools. i think that sort of says something about the importance of sexual relations and sex and marriage and all of the related issues to us in this society.
and so it was critical, we thought, in the area of sexual orientation just as it was critical in the area of racial equality to establish that everybody had the right to marry the person that they loved. >> you have watched these laws pop up in states across the country. do you think -- and these are laws that essentially say on religious grounds that business owners don't have to serve same-sex couples. >> right. >> don't do you think that's a direct result of what's going on in the courts marriage? >> i think it reflects the same kind of discrimination in terms of marriage equality just as in the '60s, you had businesses saying we don't want to serve african
americans. suf always had establishments that didn't want to serve certain groups of people that people had discriminatory intent about, whether it was based upon race or religion or gender or sexual orientation. and i think you see that now. i think that will end as well just as it took awhile to integrate the lunch counters of the south in ternz of racial equality. it may take awhile toms of racial equality. it may take awhile to be sure all businesses are integrated in terms of sexual orientation. >> that's something that's coming in this country. >> do you think about the other side and where they come from on this issue? >> sure. absolutely. >> have you thought about it? >> absolutely. >> where do you think it comes from? >> well, i think it comes from different places. i think with respect to some people, they have a genuine and sincere religious belief that heterosexual marriage is the only marriage that god intended,
and that's a religious belief that they are entitled to have and our first amendment to the constitution guarantees them the right to have that belief and the right to practice that belief in their church. the same first amendment of the constitution also guarantees that they do not have to impose those religious beliefs on anybody else. they can decide how they live their lives. >> run their business? >> not run their business because when you start running -- just as, for example, an individual can believe in their hearts and in their religion that whites are superior to african-americans. they do not have a right to run their business that way because when you engage in commerce, when you open up a business, you take on certain rights and responsibilities and one of those responsibilities is not to discriminate against customers.
>> the court didn't decide the issue of gay marriage? court. >> the united states supreme court did not? >> did not. >> has not yet? >> did not. >> this is going to come back before the court? >> it probably will, and you've got a sense that decision last june. you have -- since that decision, last june, you have had numerous federal courts around the country in ohio and oklahoma and texas and virginia and utah, all over the country, faced with a question as to whether or not cities criminal nation based upon sexual orientation and who can mary is constitutional ry is constitutional. every one of those decides the federal constitution for byrd discrimination based upon who can married. republican bundle, democratic judges, judges appointed by
george w. bush. bill clinton, barack obama, george h.w. bush who we had in our trial court appointed by ronald reagan, the jung that first ruled marriage equality was constitutionally required was appointed by ronald reagan. this is not a democratic or republican or liberal or conservative. judges are interpreting the equality. >> when you say it like that, i wonder why that didn't happen 10 years ago? >> that is what my children and grandchildren are asking me: why did it take so long? why does anybody believe that people ought to be discriminated against based upon sexual orientation? why does anybody believe that you ought not to be able to
marry the person you love? it's only the people grown up in eras in which they didn't know people of different sexual orientations because the kind of discrimination that existed rivard people to hide their sexual orientation so type of. those are the -- those are the hearts and minds that win. >> the young people who have grown up in a different era, the them. >> when you look back at the two big cases, bush versus gore and this case, how do you compare them in the impact that they have on this country? >> well, they each had a tremendous impact. i think the marriage equality case ahas certainly affected an awful lot of people's lives in very, very important ways. it's always hard with cases. i've got six children. it's hard for me to say which child is most important and it's
hard to say which case is most important. but i don't think there has ever been a case that i have been as satisfied with, as proud of as the marriage equality litigation. >> i want to ask you more about back. >> sure. >> you followed their journey across the border >> it was heart wrenching... >> now see how it changed the lives of the people involved. >> i didn't go back to the person that i was before i left... >> an emotional borderland reunion >> this trip was personal to me... this is real... >> long held beliefs >>...illegal in mexico too.. >> learn the language! come here... >>...most ridiculous thing i've heard in my life >> tested by hard lived truths... >> these migrants are being exploited >> beyond borderland... only on al jazeera america
back with david boies until the gay marriage case, was the bush versus gore case the biggest case of your life? >> it was one of the biggest. >> how did you get involved with that? >> i was called by vice president gore's team and asked to come down to tallahassee for a couple of days while we started this out. yes -- i didn't get to sleep for the next 30 days as we went from court to court. we went to the united states supreme court twice. we went to the florida supreme court three or four times. all within a space of 30 days. >> did you anticipate that it would take that much time and that many courts and would go all the way to the supreme court? >> i don't believe anybody at that time anticipated that long, go to that many courts and not the supreme court. i think most people thought this was a case that would be decided in florida by the florida supreme court under florida law. >> that's the way elections had
always been decided before. we had only had one time in our history where you had had participation by supreme court justices and that wasn't even as a court. >> was as part of a panel that included 3 people from the supreme court, three people from the house of representatives and three people from the united states senate. so although they were justices, they weren't acting in a judicial capacity. you had never had the supreme court as a federal judicial body deciding who became president of the united states. >> what was at steake in that case other than the leader of the free world. >> the leader of the free world was at stake and that was a pretty important decision and maybe a more important decision than we realized at the time. i think that what was at stake was the way our democracy works whether you are going to have judicial
intervention to, to stop low count. remember what happened here was that under florida law, people were entitled to a retail. the supreme court stopped that recount. it stopped the recount before they had agent. they had an argument and confirmed it. they stopped the recount before they had argument. on the case one of the things that the majority judges said was you want to stop the recount because if the recount shows that vice president gore is the winner, then that will undermine the legitimacy of george bush's presidency. i think some people would argue decision in a long run sense also undermined the legitimacy of the electoral process.
>> i know lawyers don't like t? >> no, we do not. >> can you please describe to us what it is like to lose a case like that? >> well -- >> there probably will be no other like that. >> at a birthday celebration not too long after wards, one of the toasts remarked that every lawyer loses questions. do you feel that burden? >> you always wonder whether there was something else you should have done. one of the things is the books and articles that have been written that interviewed the judicial clerks and the like made clear that this was something that the court had decided even argument. difference? >> you always hope it will make a difference, that you can
break through and you always wonder whether there was something that you could have said broken through that perception, gotten them to change their mind, gotten one judge to change their mind, but i haven't been able to think of what that would have been that we didn't say. olson, on different sides of the bush versus gore case as being on the same side of the marriage equality case don't talk about this that much. >> we talk about it some, but there is not much to say, and we could repeat what we said in court. nots much productivity. the supreme court decided who was right and that's the way we despite cases in this country. you asked me about the significance of it. i think there is some neg i have been significance but a positive, too.
after the case was over, i was interviewed by a number of reporters from around the world. i was interviewed by a particular reporter from russia and our reporter said you have to help me understand this case a little bit better. it's hard for me to explain to people in my country what happened here. where is your yeltsin, he said? where is your person prepared to stand on the tank and say, this is wrong and to call the people out, and i said, well, one thing about our country, is that we have such confidence in our democracy that we know no matter who wins this election, there is going to be another election in two to four years, and that election is not going to be affected by who won this election. this is not going to be a situation where the person comes in appeared does a coup,
manipulates the electoral process. there is going to be a fair election four years from now. and if we lost this one, we have a chance to win it back next time. and because we have that confidence in our democracy, we are able to let the courts decide under a rule of law who decides because when you think about it, the courts are the only place that you can go to get a decision. i disagree. >> plenty of people did disagree and what do you tell those people who say, well, the courts weren't fair. >> well, what you have to tell them is that somebody has to make a decision. and if the -- if i won bush v. gore, there would have been a lot of people on the other side that said, that's not fair. >> i understand, but it wasn't just your russian friend who had questions about whether or not this country was operating in a fair way. and it's interesting to hear your description of that.
given, and one thing i will say on my behalf is i work hard and i have taken advantage of these opportunities. but you don't get these opportunities by particularly a first opportunity by hard work. you get a good part by luck. the very first high-profile case i did was a very, very large anti-trust case that i tried in california. at the time, the largest private anti-trust case in history. i was the fourth choice for that case. the other three turned it down. if any one of those three had taken it, i wouldn't have had that opportunity. >> a lot has been made about your dyslexia. how do you think that's affected your work? >> well, it's in an ironic way, i think it's actually helped me because the skills that i developed to adapt, the fact
that it's hard to read, are skills that i think have helped me as a lawyer. as an example, i was in high school debate and debate, you have note cards. because of my dyslexia, it was difficult for me to use note cards because it took me so long to locate it and look down and there would be so much pause and dead time and totally destroy the effect of the afrth. so, i had to learn to talk extemporaneously without notes, and that's been an enormous advantage in talking to juries and, to some extent, to judges, because it allows you to be much more conversational, allows you to be much more relaxed, more natural. so, i think it's a more effective way of communicating. and that is a consequence of dyslexia. i would not wish dyslexia on anybody, but what it demonstrates is that dyslexia is not a disability. it's a difference. and you can adapt to that sdranings, and
you can succeed with that distancedifference, a with that distance and sometimes more because of the difference than you could have without it. you? >> great to talk to you. thanks. william faulkner wrote the past is not dead, it isn't even past. northern ireland still lives in 30 years of deadly strife, known as the troubles. recorded reminiscence of the bad old days become the subject of a legal battle and it's the inside story.
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