The two principal attorneys who faced off over Bush v. Gore in 2000 joined forces in 2009 to fight California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage, and, now, to write this light account of their adventures in court.
Coming on the heels of Jo Becker’s polychromatic Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality (2014), this account by two A-team lawyers seems a bit wan by comparison. Although much of the text is in the third person, on two occasions, the authors pause to let an individual have a chapter. Both men have “Why I Took the Case” chapters, and later, each writes a paean to the other. Olson praises Boies’ artistry as a cross-examiner; Boies praises Olson’s strengths in closing arguments. The two talk about their ideological differences, too, but realize they both love fine wine, sailing and numerous other pleasures. They offer platitudes about how political differences should not separate us so severely. Two of the stars of Becker’s book appear early—Chad Griffin and Rob Reiner—but they fall off the narrative train quickly as the authors roar through their federal lawsuit, the appeal and the Supreme Court appearance that resulted in a partial victory for the authors’ side (Prop 8 died). The authors help us see what a massive (i.e., expensive) undertaking this suit was (millions of dollars) and give us some details about how many lawyers were involved and what they were doing. But the whole thing seems a bit airbrushed. Were there really no arguments? No egos? No mistakes of any consequence? They are fairly gentle, too, with their opponents, praising their diligence at times and their strategies. However, Boies and Olson do disdain the “expert” witnesses the pro–Prop 8 team assembled. (Some were so unqualified that their roles ended after their depositions.)
More bromance than a rigorous account of what actually occurred. Turn to Becker’s book instead.