Who Wrote it - and Who's Responsible?
Many federal employees are civil servants who cannot be replaced because the new Administration disagrees with their politics. And because the gay couple in this case had previously challenged DOMA when George Bush was President, it is no surprise that the Justice Department had attorneys ready to defend the suit. In fact, one of the lawyers who wrote the brief - Scott Simpson - is a Mormon Republican, and a holdover from the Bush Administration. Alberto Gonzales even awarded the guy for his legal defense of the Partial Birth Abortion Act. Arguably, the Obama Administration could not replace him with a new attorney.
But the first lawyer listed on the brief is Tony West, an Obama political appointee. West served as California finance chairman for Obama's campaign, where he raised at least $500,000. He is the brother-in-law of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who strongly supports gay marriage and is running for California Attorney General. His wife, Maya Harris, was until recently Executive Director of the Northern California ACLU. The ACLU issued a joint statement this weekend with other groups condemning the legal arguments in the brief, saying they were "very surprised and deeply disappointed" with the Obama Administration.
Of course, there is no evidence that West wrote the legal brief - or even knew about it. His name was on the brief, because he heads the Justice Department's Civil Division (which handles all lawsuits filed against the federal government.) But that means he supervises the attorneys who wrote it, and he can be held accountable.