WASHINGTON — The U.S. House has tripled the cost cap for the legal expenses of hiring a private attorney to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court to reach a potential total sum of $1.5 million.
According to recently approved contract modification dated Sept. 30, House General Counsel Kerry Kircher has agreed to pay Bancroft LLC private attorney Paul Clement a sum not to exceed $750,000 to defend DOMA, but this cap may be raised to $1.5 million under written notice.
“It is further understood and agreed that, effective October 1, 2011, the aforementioned $750,000.00 cap may be raised from time to time up to, but not exceeding, $1.5 million, upon written notice of the General Counsel to the Contractor specifying that the General Counsel is legally liable under this Agreement for a specific amount,” the contract modification states.
The contract modification is signed by Committee of House Administration Chair Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) as well as Kircher and Clement.
The Obama administration in February announced that it would no longer defend DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, against litigation in court.
After the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted a 3-2 in March along a party-line basis to take up defense of DOMA, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) directed Kircher to defend the law and hired Clement, a U.S. solicitor general for former President George W. Bush, for assistance in defending the statute. The initial contract hired Clement to defend the law at a blended rate of $520 an hour and initial total cost cap of $500,000.
In addition to raising the cost cap to $1.5 million, the contract modification also opens the door for further increases upon agreement of the parties involved.