In the months leading up to the Supreme Court's decision last week to hear two same-sex marriage cases, much of the speculation has been on how Justice Anthony Kennedy will vote. The centrist Kennedy is widely viewed as holding the coveted fifth vote that will break the tie between the Court's conservative and liberal wings.
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm’s pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case.Gay rights activists at the time described the court’s 6-3 ruling as the movement’s most important legal victory. The dissenting justices were those to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.