George Will Predicts Win for Marriage Equality in Supreme Court

House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner appealed to the Supreme Court Friday in a DOMA case. Here's why a leading conservative thinker says they could lose.

BY Lucas Grindley

July 02 2012 12:48 AM ET

George Will

Conservative commentator George Will predicts that if the Supreme Court must decide on the legality of same-sex marriage, then it will side with equality.

The influential commentator and columnist was asked during ABC's This Week about the future legacy of the John Roberts court, which upheld President Obama's health care law last week. Roberts sided with the traditionally liberal justices while Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is usually the swing vote, sided with the conservatives.

"What about gay marriage?" host George Stephanopoulos asked Will. "I wonder if Justice Kennedy sticking with the conservatives this time around on health care means that he will free himself up to approve gay marriage."

Will said Justice Kennedy is "much misunderstood" because his rulings falsely appear to put him all over the ideological map.

"People say he's somehow squishy or unprincipled," Will said. "I think he's driven in both directions by a constant compass and that is he's a libertarian. And the libertarian dimension of him may cause him to be the fifth vote — there won't be six — but to be the fifth vote for gay marriage."

Will's opinions carry weight among a certain set of opinion-makers. He sparked headlines, for example, when he wrote a column in 2009 saying flatly that it was time for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan.

The likelihood that the court will decide on marriage equality is increasing. For the first time, House Republicans Friday appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. And the court could opt to hear the Proposition 8 case out of California if that is also appealed.

Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis claimed that if liberals are winning in court, then "the argument on public discourse is being won by conservatives."

"Conservatives are wrong to depend on courts," he warned. "You got to go win the arguments on public opinion, which is happening by the way in 36 states on gay marriage."

The last time Davis tested his theories, at the polls in 2010, he lost, in a Democratic primary for governor of Alabama. Davis said in May that he is switching parties and states, moving to Virginia, and prepping for another possible run for office.

Davis claims the Democratic Party has moved away from him. "If I were to leave the sidelines, it would be as a member of the Republican Party that is fighting the drift in this country in a way that comes closest to my way of thinking," he announced in May. "Wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities."

Watch video of the exchange below at the 21-minute mark.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the state where Davis ran for governor.

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