When 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.
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.