Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule at the end of this month on a challenge to gay marriage bans in Kentucky and three other states.  Legal observers and activists expect the ruling to settle the issue of gay marriage nationwide.

NPR’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg has been covering the case as it made its way to the nation’s highest court. She recently spoke with WFPL about how she covered the case ahead of hearings and why this case is special.

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On the Plaintiffs

You interviewed plaintiffs from many states—there is four states involved. Is there anything that stood out to you as you were hearing these stories? Any common threads?

Totenberg: A lot of the plaintiffs brought their cases in particular because either they had natural biological children, in the case of the couple of the plaintiffs in Tennessee. But, more often they were adopted children and they wanted to be treated the way other parents are of adopted children and what it meant to them that they couldn’t be—that they weren’t married and therefore couldn’t be treated the same way meant that all kinds of extra hoops that they had to cross in their lives and explanations they had to make to their children. I think that was the motivating force for a lot of the people who brought these cases.

On Covering Oral Arguments

In your coverage of the oral arguments back in April, you played tape from the actual chamber. We were able to hear the justices in their own voice. This isn’t something you usually do. Was there any particular reason you included tape from the hearing in this story?

Totenberg: This was the only case this term that were we had the same day audio available. If you want to hear an oral argument, the Supreme Court does post it online at the end of each week, but it’s not available on the same day of the argument … it happens episodically.