(CBS News) WASHINGTON - At his news conference Friday, President Obama was asked about his decision to get involved in the battle over same-sex marriage in California's ban on same-sex marriage. Late Thursday, the administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court, saying that California's ban on gays and lesbians marrying violates their constitutional rights.
"If the Supreme Court asks me or my attorney general or solicitor general, 'Do we think that meets constitutional muster?' -- I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly. And the answer is no," said the president
CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford spoke with "Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley about the brief and its potential impact. A transcript of the conversation follows.
Scott Pelley: Jan, the court will hear arguments later this month that will impact all of this. I wonder what the president's comments today have to do with the case?
Jan Crawford: Well Scott, as the president said today,"I'm not a judge, I'm the president." His views carry no binding authority in the Supreme Court. Just because the administration is making this argument doesn't mean the court has to go along with it. The federal government is not directly involved in this case -- it's a challenge by same-sex couples in California to a California constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. The administration chose to get involved to make a strong statement on gay rights that are reflected in his comments today. The brief in fact is more important politically and symbolically than legally.
Pelley: The case is centered on California. Could it have wider-ranging implications?
Crawford: Yes, it certainly could . Even though this case comes from California, it could have an enormous impact across the country. California is one of 30 states that has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The decision could affect all of those laws -- that's more than half the states in this country. And if the Supreme Court agrees with the president -- that amendments like California's are unconstitutional -- many or all of those laws banning gay marriage could be in jeopardy.