Republicans hire former solicitor general to defend the Defense of Marriage Act
House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), have hired former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement to defend the ban on federal recognition of same sex marriage.
In February, President Barack Obama decided that a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, legislation passed by Congress in 1996 that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, was unconstitutional. The law prohibits legally married same sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
After declaring it unconstitutional, Obama ordered the Department of Justice to stop defending the law in court.
LegalTimes reported that the office of Speaker Boehner confirmed hiring Clement on Monday as a deadline loomed in one of the cases abandoned by the Obama administration. Clement served as solicitor general from 2005 to 2008.
The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) voted along party lines in March to direct the House General Counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
BLAG is a five member panel and has the authority to instruct the non-partisan office of the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the House of Representatives.
“This action by the House will ensure that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally,” Boehner said. On Monday, he said funds should be cut from Department of Justice to pay for the cost of defending of the law.
“Not only are House Republican leaders defending the indefensible, they’ve brought in a high priced attorney to deny federal recognition to loving, married couples,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Speaker Boehner appears ready to go to great lengths, and the great expense of a high-power law firm, to try to score some cheap political points on the backs of same-sex couples.”