House General Counsel Opposes Recording of Golinski DOMA Challenge

Posted by Chris Geidner
September 12, 2011 6:30 PM |

In Karen Golinski's challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, House general counsel Kerry Kircher signed a filing stating that the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group "prefers not to participate in this district's pilot project permitting video recording of courtroom proceedings."

The Sept. 9 filing means the hearing won't be recorded. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White earlier had issued an order stating, "Should any party not consent to the recording of the proceeding on October 21, 2011, the proceeding shall not be recorded."

As such, the defense of DOMA being paid for with public dollars -- pursued by BLAG on a 3-2 party-line leadership vote -- will take place in a hearing that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California wanted to make "publicly available on the district's website" but that BLAG has prevented.

Lambda Legal, which is representing Golinski in her lawsuit seeking equal benefits for her wife that would be available were she married to a man, reacted strongly.

Lambda Legal staff attorney Tara Borelli said in a statement, "It is outrageous that the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives wants to shroud in secrecy their use of tax dollars to try to defend discrimination. Of course, opponents of equal rights for same-sex couples have a track record of hiding, as evidenced by the Proposition 8 Proponents' strenuous efforts to keep the public from seeing the Proposition 8 trial in Perry v. Brown (formerly Schwarzenegger)."

UPDATE @ 7:45P: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spokesman Drew Hammill responded to an inquiry from Metro Weekly about the filing, writing, "Our office was not informed about this decision so it was not raised with the full membership of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group. Leader Pelosi strongly supports transparency, but this decision by Speaker Boehner is not a surprise since his defense of the indefensible 'Defense of Marriage' Act does not have the facts or the law on its side."

UPDATE @ 10:45P: A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did not respond an after-hours email seeking comment on this story or Hammill's comment.

Read BLAG's (brief) motion: Dkt # 164 BLAG's Non-Consent to Video Recording.pdf


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