Bloomington Will Not Join Court Brief Against DOMA

Officials did not know about a deadline to sign onto an amicus brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The City of Bloomington will not be able to sign on to a “friend of the court” brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act because officials did not know about an impending deadline.

But an Indiana University law professor says it may have been a waste of money anyway.

“The assumption by the public is the audience is the Supreme Court. Or the justices themselves,” says IU Maurer School of Law Professor Alex Tanford says. “And I think by and large that’s wrong. Justice [Antonin] Scalia quite famously a couple years ago said he never reads amicus briefs.”

Tanford says filing such a brief does not have much of a payoff, even for the two dozen cities which did sign on to an amicus brief which will go before the court.

“No, in fact it’ll cost them something to the extent that amicus briefs, by the time you hire a big shot lawyer to write these things, who with their staff of young guns from Harvard and Yale are charging you $800 an hour, the cost of an amicus brief runs $30,000 to $50,000 per brief.”

Mayor’s spokesman Adam Wason says the city had not even thought about filing a brief until alerted to the possibility of doing so by a reporter late last week. No Indiana cities have joined the brief.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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