December 14th, 2012
As I have said before, I think that House Speaker Boehner’s defense of DOMA is not inappropriate. The law was passed through legal process and the members of the House at least nominally support the law and thus should be entitled to defend a law that the Executive branch refuses to defend, should they wish to do so. Even one that is so clearly in violation of the Constitution.
But what amuses me about the defense that Speaker Boehner is conducting is that it is, at best, a hangdog averted eyed mumbling defense. There is no “defending the family” or “protecting the sanctity of marriage” here. In the rare rare instance that DOMA’s legal defense gets a comment, it’s about “enforcing the law” or stopping the President from making unilateral decisions about which of Congress’ laws to uphold.
I agree. We don’t want Presidents just ignoring the law. We have checks and balances.
On the other hand, the Justice Department was also correct to find the law indefensible and unconstitutional. Nor do I fault the Senate for refusing to participate in the defense, as it was clearly not the will of that body.
This whole process has been, to me, an illustration of representative democracy at its best, respecting the roles that each other holds.
But it is funny to watch.
I might be less amused if we were losing the argument. Had virtually every DOMA case not gone our way, I be less sanguine about the House’s role.
But I have found it to be a regular reminder that we are not only winning the legal struggle, but the public argument and even the political one. Each victory has triumphal declarations in the press from lawyers and advocates for equality and an echoing silence from Boehner or other Republican leadership.
And now we have one more anecdote to illustrate the extent to which social and political support for DOMA has evaporated. (Rollcall)
House Republicans have quietly raised the value of a contract with a private law firm that is handling the chamber’s Supreme Court defense of a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren, R-Calif., signed off in September on a $500,000 increase in the maximum value of the contract with the firm, Washington-based Bancroft. Republicans have raised the cap of the contract twice: first on Sept. 29, 2011, from its original maximum of $500,000 to $1.5 million, and again on Sept. 28 to its new maximum of $2 million.
House Minority Leader Pelosi has conjured up some indignation over the raise but she must have been chuckling as she did so. Two million dollars for a multi-case, multi-state, multi-year defense is chump change, a piffle. The Justice Department budget is tens of billions of dollars per year.
And you have to laugh that a notion which was integral to a presidential campaign less than a decade ago, a bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support just two decades past, is now defended in secrecy and silence.
UPDATE: I prepared this on my phone and failed to include the link. It is now included above. Also, if anyone failed to make the connection, “have quietly raised” means that they didn’t inform the Democratic leadership.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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