Is John Boehner’s Lawsuit Defending DOMA Actually Illegal?
If he can’t pay for it, then yes it is! (And nobody seems to think he can pay for it.)
Gay blogs weren’t the only ones up in arms when word leaked that defending the Constitutionally-challenged and dated Defense of Marriage Act would cost $500,ooo minimum. Nancy Pelosi and many other financial consultants familiar with cases of this stature suggested that figure is on the extremely conservative side (Get it?) and that legal fees could easily soar upwards of 100 million dollars.
While these numbers are insanely high prices to pay for a law that the majority of the country does not support, and President Obama has already found to be unconstitutional – consider the campaign that Republicans crusaded on last election: Budget cuts, smaller government, and job creation. Defending DOMA of course falls under none of those categories.
And now Matt Baume has dug up a little nugget that throws the entire misguided lawsuit on it’s head. It’s illegal. The Antideficiency Act prohibits Congress from spending excessive amounts of money that it just does not have. Government officers who violate the act, who break this law, face punishment of up to two years in prison.
Making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under, any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(A).
Involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose, unless otherwise allowed by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(B).
The fiscal principles underlying the Antideficiency Act are really quite simple. Government officials may not make payments or commit the United States to make payments at some future time for goods or services unless there is enough money in the “bank” to cover the cost in full. The “bank,” of course, is the available appropriation.
An officer or employee who violates 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a) (obligate/expend in excess or advance of appropriation), section 1342 (voluntary services prohibition), or section 1517(a) (obligate/expend in excess of an apportionment or administrative subdivision as specified in an agency’s regulation) “shall be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office.” 31 U.S.C. §§ 1349(a), 1518.
In addition, an officer or employee who “knowingly and willfully” violates any of the three provisions cited above “shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both.” 31 U.S.C. §§ 1350, 1519.
Chief Administrative Dan Strodel (Re: The government official actually responsible for paying for the DOMA defense lawsuit) has said “he too had no knowledge of where the money would come from.”
And there you have it. Can we shut this ridiculously discriminatory and ill-advised lawsuit down now?