Proposition 8, California's marriage amendment, was ruled unconstitutional by federal judge Vaughn Walker. Amid the clamoring over the ruling, the Liberty Counsel issued a statement blaming the Alliance Defense Fund for doing a poor job defending the proposition and for keeping the Liberty Counsel from helping with the case.
While Christian legal groups sometimes compete, and sometimes even disagree on cases, it is rare to see one directly criticize another.
In the statement, Liberty Counsel claims that it has been involved in every marriage law case in California since 2004, but the ADF objected to the Liberty Counsel working on the case. The group further said that it "sought to provide additional defense to Prop 8 because of concern that the case was not being adequately defended." Liberty Counsel pointed out that the ADF called only two witnesses, compared to 15 for the other side.
The rift between the Liberty Counsel and the ADF stems from a dispute over who should intervene after California Attorney General Jerry Brown decided not to defend the case.
Liberty Counsel had been representing Campaign for California Families since 2004. The now-defunct organization was successful on a previous marriage initiative, but it was not responsible for getting Proposition 8 on the ballot.
The official representative of the proposition was Protectmarriage.com: Yes on 8, which was defended by Andrew Pugno, a lawyer the ADF lists as being an "ADF-allied attorney."
When opponents of Prop. 8 filed their lawsuit, both the ADF and the Liberty Counsel sought to intervene.
Pugno told the San Francisco Chronicle that his group should be the only one to defend the proposition. "We represent the people who got things done, who got Prop. 8 passed," said Pugno, "[Campaign for California Families] represents the extreme fringe and is not representative of the coalition that got it passed. They didn't even support Prop. 8 until sometime in the summer."
In September 2009, Judge Walker ruled in favor of Protectmarriage.com, the ADF group, and against Campaign for California Families, the Liberty Counsel group.
Now that the case is over, the Liberty Counsel is making it clear that they would have defended the case differently. The organization is filing a brief in favor of an appeal, but it is still not representing the proposition itself.