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May 12, 2005

The cucumber people bring in the big guns

The Montgomery Sentinel reports that the federal judge who issued a temporary restraining order in the challenge to the Montgomery County, Maryland, sex-ed curriculum (which I wrote about here and here) has given the parties more time to present their case on the merits and has extended the injunction until December 31.

The Sentinel notes that the Board of Education has brought in the big guns, hiring one of Washington, D.C.'s biggest law firms, Hogan & Hartson. According to the Hogan web site, the firm has over 1000 lawyers in 21 offices across the world. The site indicates that the Board is a regular client of the firm, and this is confirmed by even a cursory Google search. There is no reason to believe that the firm is handling this case pro bono. It would be fascinating to find out where the Board has budgeted the money for litigation like this or even what the total line item is for lawyers in the budget. The only legal fees in this summary amount to $400,000, which is obviously far less than the Board would spend on its litigation.

One other thing: Hogan's battle is going to be either to change the mind of the district judge, who is already on record against the Board, or to prepare a good case for appeal to the Fourth Circuit. I would ordinarily point out that the Fourth Circuit has a reputation as a conservative court, but this is not necessary, given that the district judge, a black Democrat appointed by Clinton, has already ruled against the Board.

UPDATE (5/13): If the short piece in this morning's Post is accurate, the parties agreed to extend the injunction in order to see if they can work out a resolution. That would be a sign that maybe the expensive legal advice was worth it. We'll see.