House Speaker John A. Boehner wants to divert some money from the Department of Justice so that the House can defend a law against gay marriage, something the Obama administration has said it will no longer do.
The Ohio Republican disclosed his intent in a letter to his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi of California, who opposes the House’s going to court to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Since President Barack Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, won’t defend it, it’s up to the House, Boehner said in effect.
As Main Justice recounted in February, the administration was for a while on a tightrope as far as the act was concerned: Candidate Obama made it clear he disliked the law, but when Obama became president he thought his Department of Justice was obligated to defend it, at least for a time.
A couple of weeks after the administration’s announcement, Boehner said he would ask the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, made up of the top leaders of Congress, to defend the law in court. The Republican members of the group sided with Boehner in a 3-to-2 vote.
“By the president’s action through the attorney general we have no choice,” Boehner’s letter says. “The House now faces that additional burden and cost.” The letter does not cite a dollar figure.
In his letter, Boehner addressed Pelosi as “Democrat leader,” reminiscent to older ears of how Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) used to eschew the adjectival form of the rival party when he was trying to be snide — which was often. Or perhaps the typist was just saving keystrokes.