Where's a Good Lawyer When You Need One?

Wisconsin Public Television is looking for a smart, well-spoken attorney to participate in a mock trial about the civil unions and marriage ban. No, they're not looking for one on our side. Those are easily found among the state's firms and law school faculty, or pretty much wherever you find smart, well-spoken attorneys.

They're looking for one on the other side and -- are you surprised? -- they're coming up empty.

So Andy Moore, senior news producer at WPT, issued an open casting call in yesterday's Wisconsin State Journal.
At Wisconsin Public Television, we're putting the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution on trial. Courtroom dramas have always been popular prime time programs. We're taking the color and excitement of the genre and turning it into a serious exercise in public policy.

Unlike the dramatic TV shows, our courtroom will be populated with real people; Wisconsinites with points of view and personal stakes in the outcome of the November marriage ballot.

. . .

Trouble is, we've run into what Hollywood would call a casting problem.

We can't find a good attorney who's willing to argue for a "yes" vote to define marriage as between "one man and one woman." [Aside to Andy: the ban has a second sentence too.] Outreach to state and national traditional marriage lobbying groups and legal aid organizations has been unsuccessful.

Carrie Lynch, at What's Left, first wrote about this yesterday:
The so-called "traditional marriage" groups have declined to even help find a lawyer because they believe that everyone that watches WPT will vote against the amendment and all of the folks on their side are found in churches rather than watching television.

I think it's safe to say that not everyone that watches WPT is going to vote against the amendment, but even if they are, shouldn't they be willing to defend their side of the argument?

Unless it's not defendable.
Also, the XoffFiles has some ideas about who WPT should recruit.

Okay, so we shouldn't get complacent. Given Vote Yes's limited financial disclosure and now this refusal to provide a spokesperson, we don't know exactly what they're up to -- or what they could pull off in the future.

But giving up an hour in front of a statewide television audience? What's going on over there anyways?


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I nominate Christopher Wolfe, political science professor at Marquette University and an Advisory Council member of "Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage, Inc".

Too funny that Appling and the whole side can't put up one person willing to defend themselves.

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Dan Ross said...

Funny, he popped into my mind, too. But is he an attorney? I just remember him pushing his way through the line at one of the legislative hearings saying "I'm an invited expert!"

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Matt Berg said...

How about Gordon Hoyton, the law professor at Marquette who argued that this amendment wouldn't be the first to take away rights - that the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution takes away the individual's right to sell him or herself into slavery?

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Mike Fitzpatrick said...

How about Michael Dean, the Waukesha attorney who attempted to insert his one-man First Freedom Foundation along with eight city and town governments into the ACLU domestic-partner lawsuit against the state last year? Dean also serves as the local counsel for the federal lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin by the Springfield, VA-based Association of Faith-Based Organizations in the lawsuit filed in April, 2006.
That's the suit that alleges discrimination because because some "faith-based" charities were not allowed to participate as potential recipients in a program through which state employees can earmark charitable donations through payroll deductions.

Dean was also involved in the LaCrosse Ten Commandments monument case a few years back. He would seem to be as close to a legal "ringer" as the right-wing's Cheesehead division has on their bench.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

The WPT stunt scares me. How can you put an amendment on trial? There's not basis in jurisprudence, unless you frame it as someone challenging the amendment on procedural grounds. But that wouldn't make for interesting drama.

Instead it's a "be it resolved." That is LEGISLATIVE language, not JUDICIAL language.

They should have the original sponsors of the amendment do the dirty work, not a practicing attorney.

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

Actually, there is a very good reason why the YES folks don't want to provide an attorney.

It's the same reason they aren't as organized as we.

The more people talk about the amendment,...

the more people realize it's radical implications,...

the more likely people will vote NO WAY!

So, apart from a few platitudes about "protecting the institution of marriage," it's not in their interest to have any publicity. In a forum like WPT, like any open discussion, they could never get everyone to stick to message.

-- K.


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