It’s an interesting question: Should a state be required to pick-up the cost of a lawsuit it fought, and ultimately, lost?
Lawyers who took-on and defeated the state of Michigan’s gay marriage ban in the Supreme Court, believes it does:
Six lawyers who represented the Hazel Park couple whose case was at the heart of the landmark Supreme Court gay marriage decision last month, are asking a federal judge to make the state of Michigan pay them nearly $2 million in legal fees.
The lawyers filed the request Saturday, detailing the hardships they endured the past four years while representing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The couple’s legal team is asking for $1,927,450 in fees, according to court records. The lawyers, who each billed $350 per hour, worked thousands of hours on the case and examined tens of thousands of documents necessary to the litigation.
Representatives for Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette, could not be immediately be reached for comment Sunday by the Free Press. DeBoer and Rowse’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.
Until I read this story, I had never given this question much of a thought. Should the state be on-the-hook if it loses a court battle? It’s a multi-layered question that could have consequences in years to come once decided by a judge.
The lawyers for DeBoer and Rowse say their case is unique in that they defended a couple who were part “of an historically unpopular minority.” Basically, the lawyers defended civil rights violations perpetrated by the state of Michigan.
It’s a compelling argument, especially when the lawyers point-out that Schuette was the one who pressed the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Instead of accepting early defeats, Schuette spent time and manpower on preventing the Michigan’s gay marriage ban on becoming obsolete.
As MLive’s Susan Demas writes today:
And let’s not forget: The state of Michigan didn’t have to take its gay-marriage ban to the Supreme Court. Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Chris Christie of New Jersey (who’s running for president, for God’s sake) decided not to waste taxpayer dollars on a losing battle.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette could have nixed the fight and saved the state lots of money — and embarrassment.
And now we all might have to pay. While that’s unfortunate, it’s not as wrenching as it was for loving couples to be denied basic rights for years.
Schuette was fighting an uphill battle, but still kept fighting for political reasons. He gambled and lost, and now his misreading of the law could cost taxpayers $2 million.
For a different take, click on Charlie Rood’s reaction to this story by clicking on the WSGW’s Morning Team podcast from this morning. His remarks begin around the 16:40 mark.