On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who … claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant’s ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.
–Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24
Some very misinformed gay bloggers are completely misunderstanding, and misreporting, the news that Lambda Legal, the ACLU and other major gay advocacy groups are petitioning to intervene in the controversial “Olson/Boies” lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 (Perry v. Schwarzenegger).
But now all of the sudden they want to become parties of the lawsuit itself, even though they wanted nothing to do with the move in the beginning. Olsen [sic] and Boise [sic] oppose their petition, saying that involving more groups would delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceedings. I agree. It worries me that one of the more important LGBT cases making its way in the federal courts could wind up having four different captains trying to pilot the ship. That alone should worry us.
The argument for the Johnny-come-lately LGBT groups butting out is more persuasive than just a me-first, knee-jerk reaction[.]
It would appear Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU LGBT Project are either realizing the case might actually be successful and therefore want to ride its coattails for credit and relevancy, or — depending on your capacity for cynicism — are intentionally dragging down a suit from a rival group working for the same cause.
The Box Turtle Bulletin clip, besides misspelling both Olson’s and Boies’ names, is especially frustrating in its obliviousness. Are we really dealing with “four captains trying to pilot the ship” — or “two captains trying to take back the cockpit from a pair of drunken stewardesses”? I don’t know.
What I do know is that if my interests are being represented, against my will and against my reasoned judgment, by parties I conclude are not well suited to do so, then I am surely entitled to act on my own behalf. Rule 24, and Lambda’s actions, are deeply routed not only in law, but simple ethics and common sense.
But so what, right? Burn her anyway!
The following is the comment I left at Towleroad:
Anyone who thinks that Lambda Legal and the ACLU are “johnny come lately” groups is too hopelessly uninformed on the history of gay rights litigation to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, intervention is a matter of right. If the potential intervenor (and the judge) believe that the litigation affects the intervenor and that the litigants are not likely to adequately represent the intervenor’s interests or legal arguments, then it is wholly appropriate to allow the intervenors to represent their own interests. It’s called “due process” — maybe you’ve heard of it?
Or are we suddenly opposed to allowing people to sue for their rights?
One more point: The term is “amicus curiae” — friend of the COURT. It says nothing about being a “friend of the plaintiff.”
Maybe Olson & Boies will prevail. Maybe Lambda Legal is reaching the wrong conclusion and taking the wrong action. Entirely possible.
But any gay who questions Lambda’s motives, their superior ability to strategize on gay rights litigation, or their proven track record, is just being insolent for the sake of insolence and is humiliating himself before the entire gay blogosphere.
Yes, I intend to blog about the Massachusetts DOMA lawsuit. For now, here’s a tweet I posted:
I see one interesting point in the Mass DOMA complaint. The rest is gobbledygook that will likely be dismissed for lack of standing.