Ken Starr Receives Lewinsky-Era Dig

Mar 5, 2009 5:36pm

ABC News’ David Wright reports:

As justices of the California Supreme Court today again considered the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the court heard from a unique authority on the subject of marriage: Ken Starr, dean of Pepperdine Law School.

Yes, that Ken Starr.

Starr’s oral argument today on behalf of Proposition 8 was easily his most public role since he served as the special prosecutor whose investigation of President Bill Clinton led to Clinton’s impeachment.

One might say Starr has built a career defending the sanctity of marriage, casting himself as a Puritan amid the sinners. In his previous role, Starr tacitly questioned the validity of Bill Clinton’s marriage in light of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In his new role, he was questioning a whole category of marriages that were briefly legal in California.

The California Supreme Court has previously ruled that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry would be a violation of the state constitution. But California voters narrowly overturned the court’s decision in November by passing Prop. 8, which limits marriage to partnerships between men and women. The question before the court now is whether the marjority can limit the rights of the minority.

The justices were particularly interested in whether Prop 8 invalidates some 18,000 nuptials performed between the court’s initial ruling and the passage of the initiative. And they zeroed in on the precise wording of the proposition, which read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

"I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is," observed one of the justices, in a sly reference to Starr’s previous job.

(President Clinton famously used exactly the same sentence during his deposition in the Lewinsky matter, much to his later embarrassment.)

Today, Starr did not take the bait. He merely smirked and carried on with his argument.

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