Pelosi Questions Legal Cost on Marriage Law

March 11, 2011, 6:13 pm
The New York Times
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, has written a letter to the speaker, John A. Boehner, requesting an estimate of the cost of defending cases concerning the Defense of Marriage Act, and suggested that to do so will be too costly to taxpayers.

Mr. Boehner, along with his Republican colleagues on the House leadership team, directed the House general counsel to initiate a legal defense of the statute following President Obama’s decision to stop doing so because he concluded that the law, which bans the federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional. The administration would still enforce the 1996 statute, but the Justice Department will no longer have a role in defending the roughly 10 cases now before the courts.

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (known by the unfortunate acronym BLAG), on which leaders of both parties in the House sit, voted 3-2 along party lines to initiate the defense of the act last week.

In her letter sent to Mr. Boehner on Friday Ms. Pelosi said: “The resolution passed by the BLAG also directs the House General Counsel to hire private lawyers rather than utilize his own office to represent the House. The General Counsel indicated that he lacked the personnel and the budget to absorb those substantial litigation duties. It is important that the House receive an estimate of the cost to taxpayers for engaging private lawyers to intervene in the pending DOMA cases. It is also important that the House know whether the BLAG, the General Counsel, or a Committee of the House have the responsibility to monitor the actions of the outside lawyers and their fees.”

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