Nancy Pelosi is in a spiteful mood these days.
As you will recall, the Department of Justice recently decided not to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” because the Law Review Editor in Chief and his Attorney General seem to think it’s unconstitutional. Which, of course, is their right. They can kvetch all they want about it at cocktail parties, and send tweets back and forth between the White House and Justice.
But as I’ve said in the past, they don’t have the right to simply hoist the white flag and refuse to defend a law that, until now, has passed constitutional muster. Yes, a few lower courts have ruled that it violates equal protection. But the Supremes have not made a pronouncement on the issue, and until they do, some flaky judge in the 9th Circuit does not get to make national policy.
Nonetheless, the Department of Justice has refused to fulfill its legal obligation and defend a duly-executed, procedurally sound piece of legislation.
So Congress has decided to pick up the slack, and is defending the law on its own.
To do this, it’s forced to expend money which it would not have needed to waste in lawyer’s fees had its ‘in house’ team (namely, the prosecutorial arm of the US government, namely, the DOJ and the Solicitor General) done their job and not cowered in front of the powerful LGBT lobby.
Because it can’t depend on its own lawyers, Congress has had to hire the services of the appellate experts at King and Spaulding and, in particular, of Paul Clement. Clement is a former Solicitor General, and he doesn’t come cheap. According to a recently-released report, the House has agreed to pay King and Spaulding an hourly rate of $520.00 to defend DOMA against the many challenges that have been cropping up across the country.
That means the firm is slated to gross at least a half million dollars before the contract expires, unless it’s extended because of ongoing litigation.
That’s a lot of money, but not excessive as these things go. Ask any attorney at one of Philadelphia’s white shoe law firms, and they’ll tell you that $500,000.00 over an estimated year and a half (the contract is scheduled to expire in January of 2013) is not unheard of.
Still, it’s a lot of money, and Congress shouldn’t have been forced to spend it when they had attorneys on retainer.
But the worst part about all of this is, as I was saying, Pelosi. Going behind Speaker Boehner’s back and complaining about wasting taxpayer money, the woman who had her own private jet shuttling her from nail salons in D.C. to dress shops in San Francisco (with a few constituent meetings in between) leaked information about the contract to the public. And while she’s trying to make it seem as if this was simply a move to promote transparency in government, anyone who’s been watching the former Speaker for the past few years knows that she really did it to sink those well-manicured nails into the man who stole her job.
Of course, that’s not the way she wants it to play in the arena of public opinion. Here is the press release from Pelosi’s office concerning the decision to release the information:
“The hypocrisy of this legal boondoggle is mind-blowing. Speaker Boehner is spending half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination. If Republicans were really interested in cutting spending, this should be at the top of the list.”
Hypocrisy is actually a very good word to use. And you can throw in ‘chutzpah’ too. Or, as Nancy and I remember from our Italian classes, ‘corraggio’ which essentially translates into ‘balls.’ Because as Boehner’s office noted, “this whole thing would be unnecessary if the White House and the Justice Department would do their job and defend a law that was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States – a Democratic President, at that.”
Exactly. And everyone, including Pelosi, knows it.
While it’s regrettable that Congress was forced to open the purse a little wider than anticipated, it could have been avoided if the Justice Department had done its job and not continued to play politics.
Some people seem to think that when Justice dropped the ball, the government should have just rolled over and let DOMA die a quick death. But that’s not the way we do business in this constitutional democracy. There’s a process to be followed, even if Barack Obama and Eric Holder don’t like it.
So Boehner is right. And if you ask me, Nancy Pelosi is just some aging mean girl.