Doug Hallward-Driemeier ( a partner at Ropes & Gray, LLC, and leader of the firm's appellate and Supreme Court practice ) was the featured speaker at a University of Chicago Law School event, "Standing Up For Marriage Equality: Insights From the Obergefell Supreme Court Arguments," Nov. 4 at the University of Chicago Law School campus.
Hallward-Driemeier, in conversation with Professor Daniel Hemel ( assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School ), spoke to the approximately 120 law students and lawyers in attendance about his involvement arguing for the petitioners on question twoDoes the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex that was legally licensed and performed in another state?in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case.
He's also presented 15 other cases at the Supreme Court, over 30 cases at every federal circuit court of appeals and was previously the assistant to the Solicitor General from 2004-2009.
Hallward-Driemeier spoke about what defines a marriage and how he got his surname. He noted that he and his wife both decided to hyphenate their surnames as a way to equalize and unify their bonds as spouses and future parents.
Hemel asked how Hallward-Driemeier got involved with the Obergefell case as the counsel of record for the Tennessee couples. Hallward-Driemeier explained that he was asked by a lawyer friend one day to help with the case. He agreed and they ( he and his law firm team ) started working on the brief and petition for writ of certiorari ( in which a lower court is ordered to deliver its record so a higher court might review it ) that night.
Hallward-Driemeier noted that he wasn't worried about losing the case he was focused on getting nationwide recognition for same-sex married couples.
He spoke about collaborating with, as he put it, the "legendary" Mary Bonauto ( civil-rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ), who'd never argued in front of the Supreme Court but was chosen to argue for the petitioners on question oneDoes the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
Hallward-Driemeier said that he took 27 days to prepare, and used moot courts and informal sessions with Bonauto and her team to make sure that the second question reinforced question one.
He explained that while he wasn't nervous the day of oral arguments he felt how tense his body was and how many people were counting on him.
"I thought it's not the burden of these hundreds of thousands of people, it's about their hopes and dreams," said Hallward-Dreimeier. "After thinking about that, I relaxed but when I finished I was physically drained."
Hallward-Driemeier noted that it was helpful for him to have met the plaintiffs the day before he argued the case because he was able to mentally picture them and link their stories to particular legal arguments because personal stories alone don't work when arguing cases before the Supreme Court.
When asked where he was on decision day, June 26, Hallward-Driemeier said right there in the front row at the Supreme Court.
His advice for law students hoping to argue cases before the Supreme Court is to be open to opportunities so they are in the right place at the right time.
During the audience Q&A, Hallward-Driemeier explained that there's still much work to be done regarding comprehensive LGBT equality, especially in light of the recent repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.
Amy Gardner ( dean of students at the University of Chicago Law School ) and Jeff Bushofsky ( partner, Ropes & Gray, LLC ) also spoke.
The Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Law School organized the talk and OutLaw, the University of Chicago Law School's LGBT student organization, which President Richard Deulofeut-Manzur ( a second-year law student ) led, was the event's sponsor.
Law school students received 10 Keystone Professionalism and Leadership Program points from the Practical Skills category for attending the event.