Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boehner Asks for Blank Check to Defend DOMA

On Monday House Speaker John "Snooki" Boehner announced he has hired former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement to assist in defending DOMA in several pending court challenges to the 1993 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.

Boehner, the nation's highest ranking Orange American, also had the nerve to ask former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to join him in an effort to divert funds from the Justice Department to pay for the effort.

In a letter dated April 18 to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Boehner calls for cutting funds from the Justice Department to provide money to the House general counsel to pay for congressional costs to defend in court DOMA, the 1996 anti-gay law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
On the same day, Boehner’s office announced that Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush, would assist the House general counsel in taking up defense of DOMA against litigation. Clemens is now a partner in the D.C.-based firm King & Spalding, where he manages the national appellate practice.
Boehner made the announcements on the deadline day for the House to decide whether or not to intervene in one case challenging DOMA, Windsor v. United States, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and is pending before the U.S. District Court of Southern District of New York. The House general counsel filed a notice of its intent to intervene on Monday.
In a letter to Pelosi, Snooki said, “I would welcome your joining me in support of redirecting those resources from the DOJ to the House that would otherwise have been necessary expenses on the Attorney General to defend this federal statute.”

The Blade reports that Pelosi slammed Boehner for not disclosing the estimated cost of defending the homophobic statute or involving House Democrats in his decision to hire Clement, who reportedly makes $5 million a year.
“Unfortunately, your letter did not respond to the central question in my March 11th letter: the cost to taxpayers of hiring outside legal counsel,” Pelosi writes. “Again, I am requesting that you disclose the cost of hiring outside counsel for the 12 cases where DOMA is being challenged.”
Pelosi also maintains that House defense of DOMA against litigation isn’t required and disputes an assertion from Boehner that administration’s decision amounts to the president unilaterally determining the constitutionality of the anti-gay law.
“As you know, only the courts can determine the constitutionality of a statute passed by the Congress,” Pelosi writes.
Finally, Pelosi takes issue with Boehner’s decision to hire Clement as an attorney in the case and says Democrats weren’t informed about the decision beforehand.
“According to reports, a contract engaging Paul D. Clement to serve as the outside counsel reportedly was forwarded to the Committee on House Administration, although not to the Democratic members or staff of the Committee,” Pelosi writes. “I would like to know when the contract with Mr. Clement was signed, and why a copy was not provided to Democrats on the Committee.”
While it's nice to finally see some testicular fortitude coming from the Democratic leadership on LGBT issues, where has it been for the last two years when it could have done us some good? 

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