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Utah to pay outside attorneys $300K to help defend same-sex marriage ban

Thursday, January 16, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will spend $300,000 to bring in a team of three outside attorneys to help defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban before a federal appeals court.

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The Utah Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday it has chosen Gene Schaerr of a Washington, D.C., law firm to lead the legal team. Schaerr has handled dozens of cases before federal appeals court, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a news release.

Schaerr has agreed to charge the state $200,000, which officials characterized as a discounted rate. The state will pay attorneys John Bursch and Monte Neil Stewart $50,000 each to help out. Bursch is employed by a law firm in Michigan, while Stewart works for an Idaho firm.

The three out-of-state attorneys will get help from two lawyers at the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, pledged to defend Utah’s same-sex marriage ban after a federal judge overturned it Dec. 20. Utah has appealed to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hundreds of couples married in Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court halted the weddings Jan. 6.

The state’s first motions are due to the 10th Circuit by Jan. 27.

Reyes previously said he was willing to spend whatever it took to defend the law passed by two-thirds of Utah voters in 2004. He said he heard it could cost about $2 million.

Attorneys on the other side of the case also are enlisting help. Salt Lake City attorneys Peggy Tomsic and James Magleby will get help from lawyers at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Reyes called Schaerr an expert on the Supreme Court. He also said Schaerr used to live in Utah so he understands the state’s unique history and community. Schaerr is a partner at the Winston and Strawn law firm.

He graduated from Brigham Young University and earned his law degree from Yale, according to his bio on the firm’s website. Schaerr was a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger and current Justice Antonin Scalia, and also spent two years as associate counsel to President George H.W. Bush.

If Utah’s case moves to the U.S. Supreme Court, the costs of hiring the team of private attorneys would be about the same, Reyes said.

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84 more reader comments:

  1. DONT FORGET THE US SUPREME COURT IS THE LAST RESORT

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:01pm
  2. How fiscally responsible of them to spend taxpayer dollars fighting a losing battle.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:02pm
  3. Utah: wasting money on fighting an inevitable change towards equality when they could be spending it on something more important… like sex education or deprogramming for Mormons.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:02pm
  4. Didn’t they learn ANYTHING from Prop. 8?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:03pm
  5. Good luck!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:03pm
  6. Their last hope…

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:03pm
  7. Surprise! Surprise! Not at all. Wasting money because go bigotry and homophobia.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:03pm
  8. People make a big deal out of things they shouldn’t be making a big deal out of.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:04pm
  9. wait a moment an out side attorney has no legal right to fight for utah what so ever

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:05pm
  10. What an egregious waste of tax payer money and resources.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:05pm
  11. But they wasted all that money on the prop 8 case in California and buying ads! Why waste more?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:06pm
  12. ** SIGH ** All that money pissed away on something that is ultimately going to leave each and every one of these defiant chowder-heads with heaping mounds of egg on their faces.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:06pm
  13. They are probably taking that from the tithing money of the church

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:06pm
  14. Waste the money the gays have paid in. So stupid. Its gonna happen people. Pull up your panties pop a midol and let it go

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:06pm
  15. The state HAS to defend its laws. Would you feel the same way if the state was spending money to DEFEND same sex marriage?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:10pm
  16. Another example of Republicans’ wise use of taxpayer dollars. Vote out every last damned Republican in 2014 and 2016!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:11pm
  17. Using the taxpayers money to fight what the tax payers want.. Now that’s messed up.n

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:11pm
  18. Taxpayer dollars?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:11pm
  19. The Mormons didn’t like giving up their multiple wives either to gain Statehood – but they did (at least, legally). They have double standards and won’t hesitate to use force. Their history is rife with it, hard country and hard people…

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:12pm
  20. They will crumble and fall AND SO IT IS!

    Replied on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:19pm
  21. Do you guys realize their State representatives, even when in session, are required to carry a sidearm. A hold over from the "good old days"...

    Replied on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:22pm
  22. Separation of Church and State Utah ! The Mormans need to calm down

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:12pm
  23. Pendejos.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:12pm
  24. why blow money to go to court and lose?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:13pm
  25. sad

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:14pm
  26. Can’t fix stupid

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:14pm
  27. Lol

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:14pm
  28. I’m sure they have enough bigoted attorneys in Utah to be able to spend at least that much.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:15pm
  29. Utah logic: Spend money to ban gay marriage, ignore poor and starving people’s needs.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:16pm
  30. Again why outside help? Maybe because all the in state lawyers know it is a losing case. Gay marriage will happen.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:18pm
  31. They will lose, what a waste of money. Shouldn’t they be DONATING that kind of money to charity or the homeless or something? Where’s the humanity!?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:19pm
  32. What an intelligent way to spend public dollars when there are hungry/homeless children in need…May want to rethink those priorities people!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:22pm
  33. Well, that isn’t nearly enough for what they’re trying to do.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:24pm
  34. The religious have more money than brains…

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:24pm
  35. I am pretty sure that money can be used for more important things.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:25pm
  36. Yeah, go on, waste that money!

    It won’t matter.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:27pm
  37. BIG WASTE OF MONEY DONT BE RICH AND TALK ABOUT TAXES .

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:35pm
  38. they should use that money for food shelfs instead, like true christians

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:36pm
  39. Omg

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:38pm
  40. Pin:279141DD
    Agg

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:38pm
  41. People are hungry, the world has more important problems and they are wasting their money on something they have no right to control… We could start a civil war against them, at least we will be united.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:39pm
  42. How many children and seniors could be fed with that money? How many textbooks could be bought?

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:39pm
  43. That money could help a lot of homeless or hungry people. But that would be too Christian !

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:41pm
  44. WRONG …. The CITIZENS of Utah will pay this … and THEY will lose … eventually.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:43pm
  45. Disgusting

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:43pm
  46. $300,000 is like 5 days work.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:44pm
  47. Tell me again why we admitted them into the union…………..

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:48pm
  48. Utah ChristoFascists will force LGBT citizens to pay an attorney to deny their birth right to unalienable rights. How Jesus Freaky of those Nazis

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:48pm
  49. Good to ‘see’ a State with NO Hunger…NO Homeless, etc…Nothing to ‘do’ with all this cash, but to invest in HATE….

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:48pm
  50. More wasted money and time. Seems Utah government is good at this.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:49pm
  51. At least they came down from the original 2 million they talked about.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:49pm
  52. Crazy!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:50pm
  53. PLEBEIANS FOREVER!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:56pm
  54. Talk about losing an uphill battle with a huge bolder rolling down directly towards them. They could save us all time and money by just giving up and accept equality. Think of all the things that money could be used for.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:58pm
  55. What a waste of money for the people of Utah.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:59pm
  56. Republicans always pretend to get appalled at spending, until it’s one of their MANY pet projects.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:00pm
  57. Spend your tax payers money all you want, it sisn;t going to change the fact, LOVE IS LOVE> Get over it Mormans

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:06pm
  58. Bad people!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:10pm
  59. Exactly whose money are they throwing away because of their hatred? Evil bigots.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:13pm
  60. Fiscal responsibility!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:17pm
  61. Aren’t some of those taxpayer dollars from gay residents?????

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:22pm
  62. Waste of money.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:27pm
  63. Has Redford and Sundance pulled their festival and big money out yet? They should. Palm Springs would welcome them with open arms – without prejudice or hate as a sidedish.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:27pm
  64. But it’s ok to have 20 wives and even under age children as a wife in the name of religion ? Kind of messed up

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:29pm
  65. As legal fees go that’s quite small… Gonna need more $$$ than that Utah!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:30pm
  66. Because $300k wouldn’t be better spent helping kids improve reading, writing, math, art and music or help feed the hungry…..idiots!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:37pm
  67. tell Utah tax payers to put the money up front.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:39pm
  68. What is the government of Utah thinking… how are they going to justify spending 300,000 to keep equality out instead of taking care of their homeless, hungry, elderly etc citizens. ??? This money could save a childs life, feed the homeless, create jobs, supply books ETC. SORRY BUT IF I LIVED IN UTAH I WOULD STOP PAYING TAXES UNTIL I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HELP MOVE OUR COUNTRY FORWARD INSTEAD OF IT BEING USED TO HOLD US BACK.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:40pm
  69. Let them. They will be as incompetent as the bunch that Boehn-head paid to defend DOMA. Those people need to be indentified and voted out of office for wasting taxpayer money.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:45pm
  70. Spend away Neanderthals, although Neanderthals may not have been so judgemental.

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:49pm
  71. Wonderful way to spend state tax payer money to enforce bigotry and hate! Way to go Governor!

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:52pm
  72. What a way to waste taxpayer money

    Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 11:56pm
  73. What a horrible state for anyone to live in. I say we just kick the whole damn state of hate out of the Union. I thought living here in mo was bad. At least we aren’t hated while others are allowed to Wed a million wives. I say if you want marriage to be defined as between a man and a woman then you should also hate those who have several wives not support them. I will never go to utah for anything. I feel so bad for the lgbt community in this state. Prayers are worn you friends.

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:10am
  74. Why doesn’t the Church flip the bill…it’s their state and law after all?

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:11am
  75. Child molesting polygamy must be protected at all cost

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:13am
  76. SO SAD

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:17am
  77. Using taxes, some of which was paid by gays, to try and stop equality for gays. Please someone explain this to me.?

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:17am
  78. What a bunch of losers!

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:20am
  79. OMG…… they shouldn’t be allowed to do this!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:30am
  80. Why is this an issue in America? Equality for all citizens now. Utah Oklahoma Indiana Ohio – the time has come to let go of the hate!

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:31am
  81. What a waste of 300k.

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:31am
  82. Booooooooooooooo

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:34am
  83. Government-endorsed prejudice against fellow Americans and paid for with tax payer money.

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:35am
  84. Really? Why doesn’t the Morman Church just kick in the money since they are behind it.

    Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:36am