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Friday, August 10, 2007

Law - Nationally known conservative lawyer hired by Rhode Id. Governor to file a legal brief opposing same-sex marriage

Indiana Daily Insight this morning picked up on an interesting controversy going on in Rhode Island. The Providence Journal reports today:

PROVIDENCE — State Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch is questioning Governor Carcieri’s decision to pay a nationally known conservative lawyer to file a legal brief opposing same-sex marriage.

The governor’s office signed a $15,000 contract with Indiana lawyer James Bopp Jr. to file a friend-of-the-court brief last week with the state Supreme Court, which had invited public comments while deciding whether to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts.

The case has drawn national attention as it is believed to be the first time any of the same-sex couples married in the Bay State have sought a divorce in another state.

Bopp, a socially conservative Republican with a practice focused on issues such as gay marriage and abortion, was one of at least two nationally known lawyers to contact the governor’s office about writing the brief, according to, Michael Maynard, a governor’s spokesman.

After Bopp was chosen for the no-bid contract, he spent about two weeks writing the 27-page legal document. He will be paid with as much as $15,000 in taxpayer dollars, though he has yet to submit a bill, Maynard said.

The details of the arrangement were released yesterday shortly after Lynch filed an open records request with the governor’s office regarding Bopp’s work. Lynch asserted that the brief was filed to promote Carcieri’s personal views and should have been paid for with personal money. * * *

The governor “wanted to get someone who had expertise on this issue who could file a brief that would get to the core of the issue. That was Bopp,” Maynard said, adding that the governor’s office checked some area firms and determined that Bopp was the most qualified and that his $15,000 rate was the best price available.

A document signed by the governor’s executive counsel, Andrew Hodgkin, July 17 provides this justification for choosing Bopp: “Highly specialized area, no state employees currently practice in this area.”

Bopp, 59, is a Republican National Committeeman [from Indiana, appointed by Gov. Daniels], the general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, and a former co-chairman for The Federalist Society, a national conservative organization. He has argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning five of them. His loss came in North Carolina Right to Life’s unsuccessful argument that nonprofit organizations should be exempt from a ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 10, 2007 10:55 AM
Posted to General Law Related