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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two things anti-marriage equality litigators have in common: losing, and sticking the taxpayers for the costs.

Chart source, National Law Journal, January 2015 

The waste of tax dollars by anti-marriage equality forces (who, every other day, are against litigation, courts, and lawyers) continues apace. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a group started by James Dobson and others in his coterie of career antigay profiteers, defended Tulsa County, in Oklahoma in a suit to force marriage laws to be equality administered.

They lost.

While they will just move on to the next thing, Tulsa County taxpayers are stuck with the tab for playing out the crochets and whimsies of the conservative movement.

And it's a steep tab:

Tulsa County will be on the hook for nearly $300,000 in attorney fees that were incurred during its unsuccessful defense of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern awarded attorneys for a lesbian couple $298,742.77 in fees and costs related to the county’s appeal of a lower court ruling.   
Kern found that the attorneys for Mary and Sharon Bishop-Baldwin “expended reasonable hours on the appeal” and “exercised sound billing judgment.” 
 Attorneys for Tulsa County argued that just over $108,000 was a more appropriate amount for the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Perhaps inadvertently revealing the threadbare nature of its defense, and playing up the evergreen complaint that, when things don't go your way, make yourself the victim, the county said the lesbian couple who sued them overdid their case:
 “They used a howitzer to kill a gnat,” wrote Tulsa County, Oklahoma, in objecting to a $368,827 fee request in January. The local lawyer for the lesbian couple who brought the case had recruited a team that included a University of Oklahoma constitutional law professor who is a former Supreme Court law clerk and who billed at $400 per hour.
Yet on its website, Alliance Defending Freedom claims its team is so strong it wins 80% of its cases, including 38 in the US Supreme Court. 

The State of Wisconsin got dinged for $1,055,000 defending marriage inequality. They, too, claimed the opposition overlawyered them. Virginia negotiated the judgment it had to pay down to $459,000 from a potential hit of $1.7 million. That case was led by Theodore Olson, whose fees are $1800 per hour and are, as a matter of plain fact, reasonable, because he was George W. Bush's solicitor general, and Ronald Reagan's assistant attorney general. Pennsylvania paid out $1.5 million after losing its marriage defense. SC Attorney General Alan Wilson wasted $152,000 on his pointless case; the state of Wyoming and Laramie County, $95,000. Idaho? $700,000.  The national state fees total for being on the wrong side is $5 million and counting.

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown urged Tulsa County to ignore the ruling, at least for now:
“This is an outrageous ruling,” National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown told LifeSiteNews. “A rush to judgment on a case that could very well be reversed by the US Supreme Court.” 
“We encourage the state not to pay anything until we get a ruling on the underlying issue from the US Supreme Court,” Brown said. “Even then, it is wrong to reward activists for challenging a validly enacted constitutional amendment.”
Yet NOM is no stranger to clamping on the public trough when it gets its chance to belly up. John C. Eastman, NOM's board chair and chief litigator, settled a claim against the IRS for $50,000, then filed a demand for $691,000 in legal fees. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals turned him down flat. Eastman is a constitutional law professor and former law school dean, and is representing the taxpayers of North Carolina in its defense of marriage discrimination. After the state's attorney general determined the Tar Heel State lacked a legal leg to stand on, then-House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger signed Eastman up to appeal a federal court decision granting marriage equality. The closest Eastman has gotten to the Supreme Court with the Tillis-Berger case, for which he bills $400 an hour- is the plaza in front of the Supreme Court, where he was a last-minute sub for the archbishop of Los Angeles at an NOM antimarriage rally April 25.

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