Tillis, Berger hire lawyer in NC marriage amendment lawsuit

Posted December 20, 2013

Gay marriage debate, same-sex marriage

— Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis said Friday that they have retained pro bono outside legal counsel to advise them on defending North Carolina’s constitutional amendment on marriage.

Six families have challenged the amendment, which voters statewide approved last year, that defines marriage in North Carolina as the union of one man and one woman.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office normally defends legal challenges to state law, has publicly criticized the amendment, which Tillis and Berger said calls into question his willingness to vigorously defend the amendment in court.

“North Carolinians deserve an attorney general who defends the law 100 percent of the time, regardless of political ambition," the legislative leaders said in a statement. "It’s unfortunate we have to take this step to ensure the voters’ strong support for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage is defended.”

Cooper is expected to be a Democratic candidate for governor in 2016.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said attorneys in the office "are successfully defending the state in this case and will continue to work diligently to do so."

The General Assembly isn't formally intervening in the lawsuit at this time, they said, but the outside counsel will be able to review the work of the Attorney General’s Office to ensure Cooper is fulfilling his duty. The name of the lawyer wasn't released.

Berger and Tillis reiterated their confidence in the professional, nonpartisan staff at the state Department of Justice, adding that they hope Cooper "takes the appropriate action to firewall them from his political activity."

Outside counsel also has been hired to help defend challenges to the sweeping elections law passed this summer after Cooper called the legislation "regressive."

Gov. Pat McCrory hired Karl S. "Butch" Bowers Jr., a former member of the Justice Department closely associated with Republican causes, while the General Assembly hired Tom Farr, the same lawyer lawmakers called on to help defend newly drawn legislative and congressional districts in state court. Neither Bowers nor Farr is working pro bono.


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  • jackjones2nc Dec 25, 2013

    This Republican-lead discrimination amendment will be struck down as unconstitutional. Much of the Republican agenda is unconstitutional. How much taxpayer money will Republicans waste on their ugly illegal agenda?

  • jackjones2nc Dec 25, 2013

    Hey Tillis! Is this part of your secret ALEC agenda too? Why not be honest with the citizens of North Carolina?

  • tgiv Dec 23, 2013

    I don't recall anyone in the state voting on the use of additional taxpayer dollars to run a separate legal organization. Then again, we didn't vote on allowing huge raises for political staffers on the dole while reducing teacher pay either.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Dec 23, 2013

    Whatever happens, I hope that both Berger and Tillis have a very limited future in North Carolina politics. Their agenda is extremist, and not in the better interest of most citizens of this great state.

    I can only imagine how much public tax money is squandered on the legal defense of legislation they produce, which seems to attract legal challenges like flies.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 23, 2013

    I'm surprised that more people are outraged over the abuse of our tax dollars. Tax payers already support the AG office and his agency. This is not only a wasteful spending, but appears to be a misappropiation of funds, it should be illegal.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Dec 23, 2013

    Do this against the more than 70% of the state that voted for this amendment.....that makes no sense!!

    I don't remmber 70% of the population voting let alone voting for the ban. More like 30% of the population voted for the ban 25% against and 45% did not care to vote.

    Over 50% of the US population lives where gay marriage is allowed. The ban will be gone in 5 years. You can continue your ban just keep it confined to YOUR church.

  • 12345_here Dec 23, 2013

    It is so great to see such intellectually challenged folks waste money for this state to support a discriminatory amendment. The US Supreme court will knock this law for what it is, and repeal it.

  • tmstubbs63 Dec 23, 2013

    "Waste of taxpayers money! Do the right thing and allow gay marriage".

    Do this against the more than 70% of the state that voted for this amendment.....that makes no sense!!

  • lwe1967 Dec 21, 2013

    It is not using taxpayers money illegally if they are being sue because of the office that they are holding in the State. Grow up. They are suing McCory as governor, not as Mr. McCory. They are being sued because of the law. Grown up!

  • doctorgraves71 Dec 21, 2013

    I hear Dueling Banjo's in the background as I read this...sad.