Republican lawmakers came to power in the General Assembly after the 2010 elections vowing to eliminate waste in the state budget, hold the line on spending and put more money in the pockets of the people.
Apparently, legal costs were not part of their promise.
The bills from private lawyers hired to defend bad laws, such as the amendment banning same-sex marriage and voter suppression legislation, amount to $9 million and counting, WRAL reports. In the process, taxpayer pockets are getting picked by GOP ideologues who seem to care little that their actions have been found unconstitutional.
Phil Berger, president pro tem of the state Senate, and House Speaker Tim Moore lay the blame for the legal expenses on Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has declined to defend questionable legislation that was in fact found to be unconstitutional. Berger and Moore, with the power to write checks to their lawyers on the public accounts, nonetheless go on with an agenda that has brought constant legal challenges.
And then there’s HB2, the infamous law that prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity. For good measure, GOP lawmakers also used HB2 to ban local governments from passing laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
HB2 carries a double tab for the public. There’s the money spent defending a law that is almost certain to be declared unconstitutional because it sanctions discrimination, and then there are the losses of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars because businesses will not come to North Carolina because of HB2.
The voter ID law, perhaps the most restrictive in the country, was struck down by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals because it was designed to curb participation by African-American voters. The courts also rejected as discriminatory the handiwork of Republican lawmakers who stuck their noses into local elections by redrawing the voting lines for the Wake County school board and commissioners to give an advantage to Republicans. And then, of course, there was the statewide redistricting guided by Republicans which also is in legal jeopardy.
Republicans claimed to be the guardians of the public purse when they attacked Democratic majorities as big spenders. What a $9 million joke they’ve made of that boast. Instead of being guardians, they’ve been more like a gambler fresh from a big win buying rounds for the house. Only GOP lawmakers are buying rounds only for the well-connected lawyers they select to defend their attempts to enshrine their biases in law.