Well. I must say, I am impressed.
The lawyer for a gay New Hope couple sued by a group of lawmakers after telling reporters they planned to challenge the state marriage laws, said the suit could have implications for everyone who is quoted in the press about controversial issues.
Attorney Peter Greenberg, who represents Stephen Stahl and Robert Seneca, also said he's confident that a Bucks County judge will throw the suit out. "If this type of lawsuit is permitted, to be allowed to sue people, to drag them into court, to require them to hire lawyers, merely because they might do something ... it certainly could have a chilling effect on people's right to express themselves," he said.
Greenberg spoke Friday following a hearing in Doylestown over a lawsuit filed in Bucks County Court against Stahl and Seneca by a dozen state lawmakers and a Bedford County fiberglass company that doesn't want to pay benefits to same-sex couples.
Judge Mitchell Goldberg, who noted that he has "serious doubts" about the legality of the suit, said he will hand down a ruling very soon on Seneca and Stahl's motion to have it dismissed. Goldberg said he had planned to issue a decision following oral arguments Friday, but that he now needs more time to wade through volumes of legal briefs submitted by lawyers on both sides.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Glen Lavy of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, said his clients have a right to launch a pre-emptive strike against Stahl and Seneca because the men have said repeatedly that they want to challenge the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids same-sex couple from getting married.
How on earth can you sue people for what they say they plan to do, under these circumstances? Especially when what they plan to do is entirely legal? It would seem especially improper for the state legislators to be a part of this suit; wouldn't they lack standing? After all, if the men go through with their lawsuit, the party being sued is the state, not the individual legislators.Posted by iain at October 09, 2004 10:09 PM