Gay Rights Case Has Alabama Grad in Supreme Court

By Rupinski, Patrick | The Tuscaloosa News, March 28, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gay Rights Case Has Alabama Grad in Supreme Court


Rupinski, Patrick, The Tuscaloosa News


Tuscaloosa has more than a passing role in the battle over gay marriage unfolding this week before the U.S. Supreme Court.

For it was in Tuscaloosa that the legal thinking of one of the men defending traditional marriage first developed.

Charles J. Cooper, the Washington attorney who argued in favor of California's ban on gay marriage before the high court on Tuesday, earned his law degree from the University of Alabama.

Cooper, the chairman and a founding member of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Cooper & Kirk PLLC, graduated from UA's School of Law in 1977.

According to his biography on the law firm's website, he was editor in chief of the Alabama Law Review while at UA and graduated first in his law school class.

Cooper, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, also earned his undergraduate degree with honors from UA's business school in 1974. He remains a member of the Alabama Bar as well as the District of Columbia Bar, according to his office.

Cooper, 61, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The New York Times described Cooper in a news article on Wednesday as a more traditional conservative who is an originalist who argues the letter of the law and the original meaning of the Constitution.

The Times said Cooper's colleagues describe him as a meticulous and cautious lawyer with a formal style.

After graduating from law school, Cooper became a law clerk for a federal appeals court judge. In 1978, he became a law clerk for William Rehnquist, then a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice.

Rehnquist later became chief justice and in 1998, as chief justice, he appointed Cooper, who was then in private practice, to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States. …

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