Walter Russell Mead | The Blue Civil War is on the way

Rhode Island’s blue-on-blue showdown is heating up. Famed litigator David Boies is taking a 96 percent pay cut to represent the state against recalcitrant public sector unions. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Boies became involved, he said, because he was convinced that Rhode Island’s pension troubles were just the tip of a $5 trillion iceberg of unsecured retirement promises to the nation’s millions of public workers. “This is something that can cripple state and municipal governments at a time when the federal government is, more and more, cutting back on the services it provides,” he said.

Public unions and their allies maintain that state pensions are owed, intact, to their recipients, and that any tinkering with benefits amounts to theft and criminal breach of contract. Boies and others disagree:

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