NC General Assembly leaders, magistrate hire attorneys to defend same sex marriage exemption

NC Capitol Building, Raleigh

The North Carolina Capitol Building, in Raleigh. Photo by Jim Bowen. CC 2.0.

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly and a magistrate who refuses same-sex couples a marriage license have hired attorneys to defend the bill, Senate Bill 2, which allows for the exemption.

The bill was passed over Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto but has since been challenged in court, under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said they have hired outside council. WCNC reports that Berger spokeswoman, Shelly Carver, said the legislative leaders have hired the Alliance Defending Freedom, with John Eastman and North Carolina lawyer Bob Potter.

Eastman and Potter were also brought in by Sen. Berger, and then house speaker, and current State Sen. Thom Tillis in an attempt in 2014 to stop the progress of same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

Eastman is the Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit established in 2007 to fight same-sex marriage. They were the single largest donor in the fight to pass Amendment One, the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

They filed a motion to intervene on Thursday, and on Friday. Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper’s office filed a motion to dismiss the legal challenge.

Cooper, through his own representative, said that it was a waste of taxpayer money to hire outside lawyers when the case is already being handled by Cooper’s office. Cooper has expressed his opposition to the bill. He is also running against McCrory in the gubernatorial race.

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The bill will once again be paid with taxpayer money, which the General Assembly has been setting aside ever since a law was passed in 2013 allowing them to intervene in legal cases on behalf of the state.

In the fall of last year, the Republican led General Assembly passed a budget which set aside $8 million over two years to “pay for current and pending litigation,” The Citizen-Times reported this past November.

They also reported that at the time of writing, over $3 million had been used to defend state laws since July 2014, according to invoices obtained by The Associated Press.

In addition to the same-sex marriage battle, a large chunk of money went to defending a 2013 election law that requires photo ID and cuts back on early voting. They are moves seen by many as attempting to disenfranchise minority voter blocks, which are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republicans.

“Once again, Roy Cooper is publicly disparaging the case of his clients — the people of North Carolina — and instead arguing the opposition’s case for them,” said Sen. Berger and Rep. Moore in a statement. “Nobody in North Carolina would accept this behavior from his or her private lawyer, and the taxpayers should not have to in this case.”

 

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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.