Late Monday, House Democrats learned that the Republican leadership had once again secretly renegotiated its contract with attorney Paul Clement to defend the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court. This is the third time the contract has been adjusted, raising total costs to $3 million from the original $500,000 cap.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) both sit on the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), the House body intervening to defend DOMA in court in lieu of the Department of Justice’s decision not to. However, they did not find out about BLAG’s new agreement with Clement until after it had already been finalized. They wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to decry the increased spending:
Let us be clear: these steps do not reflect the will of the House or the consensus of the BLAG. Democrats do not support any decisions to invest taxpayer funds in defense of an indefensible law. We remain united in our opposition to any effort to preserve, protect, and defend discrimination in our country.
From the start, the Republican-led campaign to defend DOMA has been a practice in futility and a waste of Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. The Republican-appointed, taxpayer-funded legal team has lost in every case. Courts across the nation have stood on the side of justice and equality for all Americans. DOMA is on its way into the dustbin of history.
It would be bad enough if Republicans were losing in court and accepting the result. Yet it is the height of hypocrisy for House Republicans to waste public funds in one breath then claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility in the next. With Republicans willing to take our economy and our country to the brink of default in the name of deficit reduction, there is simply no excuse for any Member of Congress to commit taxpayer dollars to an unnecessary — and futile — legal battle.
Despite the apparent hypocrisy, Boehner has not backed down from his intent to fund the defense of DOMA. In December, when the last increase was discovered, he was asked about the spending at a press conference. He angrily responded that if the Department of Justice won’t defend the law of the land, Congress will, before storming away from the podium. Indeed, House Republicans voted the defense of DOMA into the House rules earlier this month.