Utah’s newly appointed Attorney General, Sean Reyes, announced last week that he will look to spend over $2 million in taxpayer dollars fighting same-sex adoption. This announcement comes on the heels of Federal Judge Robert Shelby’s decision to strike down Utah’s ban on gay marriage. Reyes said that he has the support of both Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart (R) and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R), who are willing to work to appropriate the tax dollars.
This is not the first time private legal counsel has been used by Republicans using tax dollars to attempt to control the outcome of rulings on gay family issues. In 2011, U.S. House of Representatives Republicans spent $2.3 million on former Solicitor General Paul Clement, by reputation the most skilled appellate attorney arguing cases these days, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
This translates into a big payday for anyone who is hired by the state of Utah to work on the case. The most expensive part of any litigation happens at the trial level, and that portion is already completed here. So whoever is hired to take on this task will do considerably less work than Clement did in defense of DOMA for almost equal money. Utah’s lawyers would have to work almost 4,000 hours, or about two years with a salary of over $500 an hour to spend all the soon-to-be-allocated tax money.