Illinois Attorney General To Intervene In Civil Unions Lawsuit

LisaMadiganWhen a state's Attorney General intervenes in a lawsuit challenging the legality of that state's laws, the Attorney General usually sides with the defense. Not so in the cases of the Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr, the two lawsuits filed last week in Illinois, which challenge the state's civil unions law.

From MetroWeekly:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) will be joining Lambda Legal and the ACLU in arguing that Illinois's civil unions law does not meet the state's constitutional guarantees of equal protection, raising the question of what the Cook County clerk of courts — the named defendant — will do in its response to the lawsuits.

The move came just two days after Lambda Legal and the ACLU each filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the civil union law. 

In a pair of June 1 filings in Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr, which were reviewed by Metro Weekly, the attorney general's office has requested to intervene in the cases … In the requests, Madigan writes, "Petitioner respectfully requests the right to intervene in this case to present the Court with arguments that explain why the challenged statutory provisions do not satisfy the guarantee of equality under the Illinois Constitution."

On June 25, the Attorney General's Office will make the request to intervene in Darby, which was brought by Lambda Legal. On June 26, the office will make the intervention request in Lazaro, which was brought by the ACLU.

Exciting as this development is, the actual argumentation of the case could be quite dull. David Orr is the defendent by virtue of his position as the Cook County Clerk, and because the particular laws of Illinois bar him from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But Orr is, himself, pro-marriage equality, and fervently hopes to lose the suit. He'll be represented by the State Attorney's office, according to the Chicago Tribune — and the State Attorney in Cook County is Anita Alverez, a liberal Democrat. Unless an outside group steps in to argue the case, there might not be much argumentation at all.


  1. Lymis says

    We’re a very blue state, but it helps to remember that these kinds of cases are not purely about the arguments. Both “sides” of the case – may argue for the same resolution, but if the judge doesn’t find those arguments compelling, the judge doesn’t have to agree, especially in matters of Constitutionality.

    Just because there won’t be any substantive argument doesn’t mean they don’t have to make a good solid case. After all, it’s not like the anti-gay folks have been making any compelling arguments even when they are putting together a court case.

    Part of this will depend on how the judge sees the matter.

  2. vanndean says

    Paul, the Attorney General is usually in the position of defending a state’s laws. It would appear, for this article, that it is appropriate to claim that the Attorney General is usually on the side of the defense.
    The subject of the discussion was that the Attorney General is not defending the marriage statutes of Illinois, in this case. She is siding with the plaintiffs. Thus she is not on her usual side of the “defense” of the state statute.

  3. Tommy says

    As a resident of Illinois, in the City of Chicago, and a taxpaying citizen in the USA, I deserve to get married to my partner Roger.
    We have been together for 25 years, and It’s high time
    we get the same benefits, and tax breaks as our neighbors.
    We dont want to get married in NYC. HURRY UP!!!

  4. says

    I will be very interested to see Anita Alvarez’ reaction. She’s the state’s attorney who was recently slapped down by a judge for contending that filming or recording police officers in the performance of their duties was an invasion of their privacy.

    In Chicago, “liberal Democrat” means a lot of different things.

  5. bbg372 says

    The headline does not highlight for the reader why the Attorney General intervening in this lawsuit is newsworthy, and leading the article with whom the Attorney General usually sides without qualifying what intervention means in this context only serves to obfuscate her role. The citation from MetroWeekly clarifies that she will be challenging the law in court, but this raises questions about her role that are never addressed. Can the State Attorney General, whose role is to defend the State in a lawsuit, choose not only to not defend the State in a lawsuit, but to argue against it, and if so, under what circumstances? The reporter presumes that the reader is bringing information to the article that he may or may not have. This is a really confusing piece of journalism.

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