This article was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Paying For It

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement is the high-priced lawyer of choice for conservative lawmakers eager to mangle the law and the Constitution at taxpayers’ expense. Clement will defend Arizona’s unconstitutional SB 1070 law before the Supreme Court, he is spearheading the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and he is charging the American taxpayer $520 an hour to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Speaker John Boehner and his fellow House Republicans.

According to a contract released last week, South Carolina taxpayers will now be on the hook for the same price to pay for Clement’s services defending an illegal voter ID law:

South Carolina taxpayers will be on the hook for a high-powered Washington attorney’s $520-an-hour rate when the state sues the federal government this week to protect its voter ID law.

That litigation could cost more than $1 million, according to two South Carolina attorneys who have practiced before the U.S. Supreme Court.

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has more than five dozen staff attorneys to handle the state’s legal affairs, but Wilson hired a former U.S. solicitor general to litigate the voter ID case at a rate of $520 an hour, a contract obtained last week reveals.

South Carolina’s taxpayers aren’t just paying this unnecessary and unnecessarily high fee, they are paying it to defend illegal voter suppression. Voter ID laws are popular among conservative lawmakers because they disproportionately disenfranchise students, low income and minority voters — all of whom tend to be more likely to cast votes for left-of-center candidates than the electorate as a whole. Accordingly, these laws exist for the purpose of shifting the electorate rightward.

Such manipulation of the electorate isn’t just disturbing, it is also illegal because the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits state laws that which are either passed specifically to target minority voters or which have a greater impact on minority voters than on others. If the courts pay even the barest heed to the law, they will strike South Carolina’s voter ID law down in a heartbeat.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published January 30, 2012, at ThinkProgress. Photo from the U.S. Department of Justice photo file.
Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser is a Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Kenyon College and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University. Ian clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has worked as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Federal Rights Project, as Assistant Director for Communications with the American Constitution Society, and as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta. His writings have appeared in a diversity of legal and mainstream publications, including the Guardian, the American Prospect and the Duke Law Journal; and he has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Fox Business and many radio shows.