Running up the legal tab in the same-sex marriage cases

Add another $45,000 to the tab that legislative leaders ran up in attorneys fees and costs chasing their same-sex marriage opposition in the courts,  even in the face of rulings rejecting marriage bans as unconstitutional.

In addition to the fees and costs incurred by the leaders’ own attorneys, taxpayers will now also be on the hook for those additional dollars — a fee award which court fillings this week show the leaders agreed to as as a result of their involvement as intervenors in those cases.

The award goes to the Amendment One challengers as the prevailing parties to a successful civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

Then Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger jumped into the cases in October 2014 after the federal appeals court in Richmond laid down the law in the circuit, holding in the Virginia case, Bostic v. Rainey, that state bans on same sex marriage were unconstitutional.

Just hours after that Bostic ruling in July 2014, Attorney General Roy Cooper indicated that his office would no longer defend North Carolina’s ban, saying that it was time “to stop making arguments we will lose.”

And on October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refuse to review Bostic, making the appeals court ruling the governing law in North Carolina.

Despite those clear signals from the appeals and Supreme Courts, the self-professed fiscal conservatives took up the torch on October 9, when they asked U.S. District Judge William Osteen to allow them to intervene in the two challenges pending before him.

Osteen declared Amendment One unconstitutional pursuant to the Bostic decision on October 14, 2014, but then granted the leaders’ intervention request for purposes of appeal.

They then pursued that appeal until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June, 2015 in Obegefell v. Hodges that marriage bans across the country were unconstitutional.

The cost for that fruitless appeal was $56, 476, but the challengers have agreed to accept $44,501.36.

They are also separately seeking nearly $255,000 from the state for fees and costs incurred as a result of its defense of Amendment One.

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