When the Obama administration stopped defending the one-man-one-woman-only Defense of Marriage Act in court, Republicans on the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group decided to spend taxpayer money to take over that task. By mid-October, as Democrats in the group made known, BLAG had maxed out
the $1.5 million cap Speaker John Boehner had placed on such spending. The money had paid for attorney Paul Clement to lose five DOMA cases in a row.
But now that the Supreme Court has decided to review DOMA and California's anti-marriage equality Proposition 8, the House Republican leadership is oddly silent:
The timing is most uncomfortable for House Republicans, who are playing a key role in one of the cases the court agreed to hear.
In June, the House of Representatives told the Supreme Court that the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act “is an issue of great national importance” that urgently requires the justices’ attention. The 1996 law denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples.
But when the court agreed on Friday to hear one of the DOMA cases early next year, the Republican leadership had nothing to say about it.
Anti-equality advocates in the National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council expressed disappointment when interviewed by Josh Gerstein about the silence. His effort to get the leadership or rank-and-file members of Congress to comment on the Supreme Court's decision to take on DOMA by reviewing Windsor v. United States
turned up just one representative willing to say anything on the record. That someone was not exactly high on the national recognition charts: Kansan Tim Huelskamp, an ultraconservative who is just finishing his first term in Congress. Boehner recently purged him from his Budget and Agriculture committee assignments.
Perhaps we're hearing the crickets on the Supreme Court's decision to review because the GOP leadership isn't keen on honing the reputation the party has for extremism after the drubbing it just got from key cohorts of the population, like, for instance, voters aged 18-29, a demographic cohort that favors marriage equality by a 2-1 margin. Perhaps they also don't want to remind youthful and other voters that among the justices on the Supreme Court who will be ruling in the DOMA case is Antonin Scalia, a Republican appointee who has made invidious comparisons between laws banning sodomy and banning murder. Kind of hard to convince people you're not extremists when you've got that besmirchment on your record.