How Much Was Ted Olson Paid to Push Gay Marriage?


Ted Olson was considered an "originalist" -- a guy who believes in respecting the meaning of our Constitution. Now he's pushing for a right to gay marriage that would overturn laws in 44 states, and take away our right to vote for marriage. How much money is he being paid?

Liberal voices express concern over the new "partial pro-bono" model pioneered by Ted Olson's law firm:

It's been a big month for the American Foundation for Equal Rights [AFER], the nonprofit launched in 2009 to undo California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.

It's not the typical model for civil rights litigation: Usually established advocacy groups pair with private lawyers working for free. AFER was launched specifically to file a federal challenge to Prop 8, and half of its all-star legal team is working for partial pay.

This new model seems to be working. But questions remain about how it could change the way firms serve pro bono clients.

... AFER's big coup was recruiting Gibson, Dunn partner Theodore Olson, the former U.S. Solicitor General under George W. Bush who argued opposite Boies in Bush v. Gore, to join the case.

... Jennifer Pizer, former director of the National Marriage Project at Lambda Legal who is now legal director at UCLA's the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, is thrilled with the progress of the challenge.

But she voices some concern about the "partial pro bono" idea taking hold. Vulnerable communities and social justice movements have long depended on large, elite firms donating their time, Pizer said.

"I think the main question for the legal community — and society generally — is whether Gibson's doing this litigation for substantial fees will prompt a shift in how the prestigious national law firms think about high-profile public interest cases," said Pizer.

"It would be a troubling unintended consequence of this important case if it were to diminish the abiding willingness of the private bar to devote significant resources to pro bono representation," Pizer said. --