Ted Olson Denounced for Actually Being a Republican

by Stephen H. Miller on September 24, 2012

Some at the Washington Blade are upset that Ted Olson, one of the lead attorneys in the bipartisan-led legal fight to overturn California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8, actually is a Republicans who is supporting Mitt Romney.

In this report, “Prop 8 attorney helping Romney campaign with debate prep,” and a related op-ed. “Two-Faced Ted Olson Should Be Shunned,” some LGBT Democrats accuse Olson of being a “hypocrite” for backing Romney despite his strong disagreement with the GOP nominee over gay marriage. But if Olson supported Obama, who he no doubt strongly disagrees with regarding the Democrat’s exponential expansion of the deficit-exploding redistributionist regulatory state, would he be no less of a hypocrite?

More to the point, the Democratic activists don’t get that having Ted Olson spend quality time upfront with Romney, who knows Olson is a leading pro-gay-marriage advocate, at least presents an opportunity to try to engage Romney on the matter at the highest level—not that it would change his stated position right now, but possibly it could have some impact down the road, should Romney win.

But too often, progressives’ idea of engagement with the opposition is to chant “Bigot, bigot, go away.” Which has never changed anyone’s mind, and really is not meant to. It’s feel-good activism based on the premise that all we really need is the one true party.

{ 25 comments }

Houndentenor September 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

1) Some writer voiced an opinion. He’s entitled to that opinion. It is unlikely that his opinion will have any impact on anything Mr Olson does. Olson is free to do what he wants. People are also free to criticize him.

2) I applaud Ted Olson for his work on the prop 8 case. I was not and am not under any illusion that it means he’s not a die-hard Republican. I think some people were operating under some illusion that he wouldn’t support candidates who would undo the work he did on that case. They were wrong.

3) It strikes some people as odd that someone would spend that much time working on a case and then support a candidate who holds the opposite view. Obviously such people have limited experience with cognitive dissonance or with Republicans who aren’t necessarily social conservatives.

4) I think it’s hilarious that you think that Olson will bring this topic up in any conversation with Romney.

another steve September 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

The full chant, as I recall from my protest days, is Bigot, Bigot, go away; spread your hate another day.

The Supreme Court will shortly decide whether it will hear the Olson/Bois Prop. 8 appeal, or not hear it, which would uphold the appellate court decision and restore gay marriage in California. It strikes me as hilarious that Houndentenor thinks this elephant in the rehearsal hall would simply go unmentioned.

Don September 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I beg to differ. Elephants in the room are almost always ignored. That’s why the phrase exists to the extent that it is a cliche. I never greet my racist family members at the holidays with “so, still a knuckle-dragging good for nothing who likes to blame black people for why you don’t have a decent job or have you evolved?”

We have no idea whether or not it will come up. But I think the good money is on “let’s not talk about that because neither of us is going to change our minds.”

North Dallas Thirty October 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Yup, they probably dare to blame Barack Obama for the economy, and that makes them racist.

Jorge October 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I don’t think that’s the black person the racist family members have in mind.

Strange, for someone who has the same attitudes about liberals, that you would be blind to how anti-black racism takes form in modern times.

North Dallas Thirty October 6, 2012 at 1:26 am

Jorge, liberals are calling Ted Olsen a bigot. That makes quite obvious that they really don’t have any accuracy in their epithets, and “racist” is no exception.

What you have to realize is that liberals like Don scream that anyone who isn’t an Obama supporter is a racist, just like they scream anyone who is a Romney supporter wants to march gays off to concentration camps and murder them. In every case, it means “not Obama Party”, and really has nothing to do with the person’s attitudes toward the minority in question; it’s merely a tantrum thrown to get the person to do what they want, no different than a child screaming that their mother or father is the worst person ever.

Jorge October 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Jorge, liberals are calling Ted Olsen a bigot.

“But this is different because I’m actually right” is a textbook bigotry argument.

Tom Scharbach September 25, 2012 at 8:49 am

It seems to me that Romney’s pledge to appoint “original intent” justices is more dangerous to “equal means equal” over the long run than Romney’s political views.

It also seems to me that Ted Olsen, of all people, must know the dangers posed by appointment pledge. He has spent his professional life arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

Olsen is smart, learned in law and experienced with the workings of the Court. He has obviously made some sort of risk/benefit calculation. The calculation is obviously not related to personal gain; Olsen is the absolute last person on earth that Romney could appoint to the federal courts, despite his qualifications. But Olsen hasn’t said what entered into his calculations, and I won’t guess.

Whatever Olsen’s thinking, Romney has been clear about his intent vis a vis the Court — it is one of the few issues on which he has taken an unequivocal position and taken it in writing. If Romney is elected, the social conservative wing of the Republican Party will do its best to hold him to his pledge. I have no doubt that if Romney is elected, one or two justices (probably Kennedy and Ginsberg) will be replaced by “original intent” justices during his term or terms, with attendant consequences.

Olsen is 72, and could well live long enough to see the Prop 8 case prevail in the Supreme Court this year (because the Supreme Court does not grant cert) or next year (because the Supreme Court does hear the case and decides favorably), but then see the precedent limited or reversed after Romney’s appointments are on the court.

What he will think then, I don’t know.

But Olsen’s choice in this election is no different than the choice faced by other pro-equality conservatives. The current Republican Party platform and the Romney-Ryan ticket are pledged to “original intent”, so we know what to expect during the next eight years if Romney-Ryan is elected.

If Stephen is right about the larger picture, the Republican Party will change its hard-core anti-equality stance within two or three election cycles. But by then, given the number of Justices who are in their 70′s and the likelihood that at least two, and probably three, will be replaced during the next eight years, the Court’s composition will have been set.

Tom Scharbach September 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

BTW, I just love this: “ … deficit-exploding redistributionist regulatory state …“. Both sides of the political spectrum deploy relabeling — witness “pro-life” and “pro-choice” — but Stephen is heading Orwellian. But he gets an “A-” for alliteration; he’d get an “A” if he strung three “r’s” together. “Nattering nabobs of negativism” is still the gold standard.

Don September 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm

precisely why i dislike the writing. far left gay blogs drone on and on about vicious christians and lay out the abuses in excruciating detail laced with dozens of barbs noting how nutty and cruel some people on the far right are.

stephen gratuitously adds such phrases that hurt his arguments. i could just as easily, and just as accurately say and Romney wants your grandmother to die in the streets. Obama’s policies areabout as deficit exploding, redistributionist, and regulatory as Romney’s policies will kill my grandma. Much to criticize about both parties, but it is more effective without the easily refutable polemics.

Tom Scharbach September 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I realized after I made the comment that I truncated Stephen’s phrase, which was “ … exponential expansion of the deficit-exploding redistributionist regulatory state …“.

That’s two pair (“exponential expansion” and “retributionist regulatory”), rather than just one. No harm no foul, though, because three of a kind beats two pair in alliteration, as in poker, so “negative nabobs of negativism” still wins, hands down.

Get on it, Stephen. Maybe you could work in “recividist” or “relapse” in, somehow. Or maybe just end it all with “ridiculous”.

Houndentenor September 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Yes, but this is supposedly NOT a far right wing blog. Using an example from the far left, just points out how non-centrist the bloggers here actually are, except on an issue that they themselves only care about because they themselves are homosexual. The language used to strawman the president is indicative of just how non-centrist they actually are.

Jorge September 25, 2012 at 10:52 am

4) I think it’s hilarious that you think that Olson will bring this topic up in any conversation with Romney.

Much agreement. I don’t talk about my views of gay marriage very often in person. If anything the “impact” has already told in the fact that Romney has chosen to work with him in the first place. It’s also important to see that the Republican presidential candidate is willing to work with people he disagrees with. President Bush knew and appointed many people who were gay. It didn’t stop him from offering at least tacit support (I’m sketchy on what he did after his State of the Union Speech) to the Federal Marriage Amendment. If anything I think this shows something about Romney’s character.

Otherwise I’m with Mr. Miller.

Jorge September 25, 2012 at 11:04 am

(I’m sketchy on what he did after his State of the Union Speech)

(Never mind. He makes it clear in the “Mary Cheney” debate that he supported the amendment.)

Tom Scharbach September 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

If anything the “impact” has already told in the fact that Romney has chosen to work with him in the first place.

Just for the record, Ted Olsen will be standing in for Joe Biden in Paul Ryan’s debate preparation. He will not be directly involved with Mitt Romney at all.

Jorge September 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

Oh, excuse me. He’s working with the budget-flaying, conservatively insensitive Paul Ryan. That means both candidates are tolerant and respectful despite his infamy. It also suggests the possibility that Mr. Olson likes Paul Ryan’s budget cuts more than he likes Paul Romney’s greasy hair.

Or are you suggesting that he’s 1) working for the Romney campaign, period, and 2) having made that decision, he’s the best person they can think of to channel the energy, passion, and justice of Joe Biden? Or maybe that Paul Ryan is the candidate who needs the most help defending against truth and justice?

Tom Scharbach September 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Oh, excuse me. He’s working with the budget-flaying, conservatively insensitive Paul Ryan. That means both candidates are tolerant and respectful despite his infamy. It also suggests the possibility that Mr. Olson likes Paul Ryan’s budget cuts more than he likes Paul Romney’s greasy hair.

Or are you suggesting that he’s 1) working for the Romney campaign, period, and 2) having made that decision, he’s the best person they can think of to channel the energy, passion, and justice of Joe Biden? Or maybe that Paul Ryan is the candidate who needs the most help defending against truth and justice?

I’m simply reporting a fact.

The reason I pointed it out is that there was speculation in the post (“… having Ted Olson spend quality time upfront with Romney, who knows Olson is a leading pro-gay-marriage advocate, at least presents an opportunity to try to engage Romney on the matter at the highest level …“) and comment thread about the “impact” that working with Ted Olsen might or might not have on Governor Romney. The speculation is based on a supposition not supported by the facts.

I don’t suppose that the two are strangers — Ted Olsen has been a prominent conservative for a couple decades — but the two won’t be working directly together, either. I don’t think we need to read more into it, Jorge.

Doug September 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

It seems to me that what is frustrating is seeing someone like Ted Olsen who obviously believes in gay rights and had donated an enormous amount of time, energy and money to fight for gay rights all the way to the Supreme Count and then see that same person endorse and help elect someone who is not only against gay rights but wants to amend the constitution to ensure that gay people will never get the rights he has fought so valiantly for.

TomJeffersonIII September 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

1. Their might be a valid complaint if the ‘prep’ work for the Romney campaign involves how to best attack President Obama on gay rights issues so as to pandering to the homophobia of Independent voters.

2. People are going to disagree about stuff politically and we should not automatically assume that changes within the gay community, but we also should not confuse criticism or disagreement as part of some big left or right wing plot within the gay community to silence the gay Republicans or Democrats.

Tom Jefferson III September 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

1. I do not believe “that all we really need is the one true party.” and I find the idea to be pretty insulting and silly.

Many protesters (no matter the issue or philosophy) tend to come up with slogans that are quick, catchy and will work in the sound byte world. It is a problem, but not really limited to gay people or gay liberals.

Also, I think suggesting that we should only allow two parties is about as silly as suggesting that we should only allow one party. But then again, that is just me.

Tom Jefferson III September 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm

As a undergraduate law student, I cannot really imagine why the U.S. Supreme Court would take a case, in the near future, on gay marriage.

Their is zero political capital to be gained from it, which does matter and the more liberal-libertarian minded justices may be hoping to delay a ruling to let public opinion settle. So as to avoid another Roe case.

So, as an aside, I think it will be awhile before the Supreme Court takes a case that decides what the Constitution says about gay marriage…again (technically they already did in the 1970s).

Granted, that does not make it a non-issue, in terms of appointments and the like. However, I think that supportive justices are probably going to wait on the issue awhile.

Pro-gay rights opinions from the court have been few and far between, but they generally are well within public opinion and not to the left of it.

Tom Scharbach September 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

As a undergraduate law student, I cannot really imagine why the U.S. Supreme Court would take a case, in the near future, on gay marriage.

I think that the Court will take up the Section 3 DOMA question this term or next. The Section 3 challenges — particularly the two Massachusetts cases — directly involve an important federal question (reserved powers) and are ripe for review.

I don’t know what the Court will do with the Prop 8 case, but I won’t be surprised if the Court denies cert.

The 9th Circuit decision is limited in scope and carefully follows Romer, and the result doesn’t seem to be in doubt. Frankly, the case, if decided along the lines of the 9th Circuit opinion, wouldn’t add much to existing precedent. So the Court has no particular reason to address the questions presented.

In any event, Prop 8, as decided in the 9th Circuit, doesn’t directly address marriage equality itself. I don’t think that a national “marriage equality” case — the LGBT Loving case — will be decided before 2020-2025.

Just a guess.

Jorge September 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm

The reason I pointed it out is that there was speculation in the post (“… having Ted Olson spend quality time upfront with Romney, who knows Olson is a leading pro-gay-marriage advocate, at least presents an opportunity to try to engage Romney on the matter at the highest level …“) and comment thread about the “impact” that working with Ted Olsen might or might not have on Governor Romney. The speculation is based on a supposition not supported by the facts.

I was not expressing any agreement with Mr. Miller that Ted Olson working with Mitt Romney would have any future impact on Mitt Romney views on gay marriage or anything similar. Houndentenor called him out on that leap of logic, and I expressed agreement with Houndentenor.

I was expressing the view that Mitt Romney’s decision to hire Ted Olson despite the fact that he litigated against Proposition 8 [..... wait, Proposition 8? The significance of that requires a bit of a refresher, because it is not immediately clear why litigating against a state marriage law is important on a national level. But that is the case that was heard in a federal court in a full trial. That is where it had legal implications. But were those legal implications widely appreciated on a national level? Perhaps Olson's writings or arguments themselves are what's important.]

Anyway, I was expressing the view that the decision to hire Olson in the first place is itself the relevant impact (that is, the result). Romney could have chosen not to hire Mr. Olson because he represented the opponents of an anti gay marriage law. Instead of making wild predictions on the future, one should take a look at present actions and ask what past actions and movements led to that result.

I did not state explicitly what I believe Mitt Romney’s decision to hire Ted Olson is the result of because 1) there are several different possibilities, and 2) my own view is that it reflects an absence of recent influence and engagement with the far right and whatever factors led Romney to run as a gay rights supporter two decades ago; that is, nothing significant has happened lately. The idea that something was caused by “nothing significant” is unexciting, and difficult to support.

Tom Scharbach September 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

Anyway, I was expressing the view that the decision to hire Olson in the first place is itself the relevant impact (that is, the result). Romney could have chosen not to hire Mr. Olson because he represented the opponents of an anti gay marriage law.

Romney has been extremely clear about his views on marriage equality — FMA, DOMA, judicial appointments, and so on. That’s what counts in my book.

The fact that Romney is willing to work with Ted Olsen and pro-equality conservatives (e.g. Richard Grenell) doesn’t seem to me to be a predictor that Romney will change his position.

Rick Santorum called Robert Traynham, a gay senior staffer, a “member of the family” in 2005, but his close association with Traynham didn’t moderate his political views.

Instead of making wild predictions on the future, one should take a look at present actions and ask what past actions and movements led to that result.

I wouldn’t read tea leaves at all in this case. Romney-Ryan’s positions on equality issues are clear and unequivocal. I’ll grant you that Romney is a “well-lubricated weathervane” who will go wherever he is pushed hardest, but but social conservatives aren’t going away in the Republican base any time soon, and those folks push hard in the Republican primary system. I’d just take Romney and Ryan at their word, and leave it at that …

Jorge September 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Romney has been extremely clear about his views on marriage equality — FMA, DOMA, judicial appointments, and so on. That’s what counts in my book.

The fact that Romney is willing to work with Ted Olsen and pro-equality conservatives (e.g. Richard Grenell) doesn’t seem to me to be a predictor that Romney will change his position.

Rick Santorum called Robert Traynham, a gay senior staffer, a “member of the family” in 2005, but his close association with Traynham didn’t moderate his political views.

(I actually did not know that last. Or maybe I forgot.)

We are at an impasse, then, because that epitomizes what I think is relevant.

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