House Republicans have paid Washington law firm Bancroft nearly $1.5 million in the past two years to have former solicitor general Paul Clement defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts. So far, they have lost all six decisions in district or circuit cases.
House Democrats say the Republicans must now decide whether to keep paying Bancroft, after another high-profile loss Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. The U.S. Supreme Court is also considering whether to take up DOMA this term.
The contract with Bancroft was capped at $1.5 million. House Democrats released statistics this week showing that the legal bills – including $750,000 this year – have reached just $50,000 short of that amount as of mid-October.
"It is time for the Speaker and Congressional Republicans to drop their frivolous, taxpayer-funded lawsuits without any delay," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a written statement. "When they do, we will all look forward to the day when DOMA is relegated to the dustbin of history once and for all."
The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has been defending the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in cases since the White House announced in February 2011 that the Department of Justice would no longer do so.
There is no indication Republicans will change course and drop the defense of the federal law signed by President Bill Clinton, which defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman. A spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has previously said the legal effort would ensure that the courts, not just President Obama, would decide the constitutionality of the law.
Boehner and Bancroft have intervened in 14 DOMA cases at taxpayer expense and have petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse the unanimous federal appeals court ruling in Gill v. OPM and Massachusetts v. United States, according to Pelosi’s office.
On Thursday, a divided Second Circuit held that a law defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman does not guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Requests for comment from Boehner and Clement were not immediately returned Friday.