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Law Firm Withdraws from Boehner’s DOMA Defense; Paul Clement Resigns, Joins PATRIOT Act Author to Defend DOMA

When former Solicitor General Paul Clement’s firm, King & Spalding, was chosen by Speaker of the House John Boehner to represent the interests of those who want the Defense of Marriage Act defended in federal court, after President Obama announced his Administration would no longer defend DOMA, there was a quick (and now successful) grassroots backlash against the firm.

Today, King & Spalding announced they were withdrawing from representation of DOMA in federal court, and senior partner Paul Clement resigned from the firm:

The law firm King & Spalding broke with one of its partners, Paul Clement, on Monday over Clement’s work defending an anti-gay-marriage law.

Clement said he was resigning from his firm, King & Spalding, shortly after it said it had moved to withdraw as counsel in the matter.

Clement said he was not resigning because of any strongly held views over the statute, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

“Instead, I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.”

This is a significant victory for LGBT groups that organized to ostracize King & Spalding from civilized company and discourse for accepting a case they did not have to undertake.

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, said on April 18 the firm “should be ashamed of associating themselves with an effort to deny rights of their fellow citizens.”

HRC had begun efforts to request law schools deny King & Spalding recruiting opportunities if they specifically forbade enterprises that violated their own anti-discrimination policies. Additionally, organizations such as GetEQUAL were getting up public onsite demonstrations against the firm.

Via email, Richard Socarides, of Equality Matters and formerly of the Clinton White House, issued this statement:

“We commend the partners of King & Spalding for rightly recognizing that their participation in furthering discrimination against gay Americans was unacceptable. All Americans deserve access to an attorney, but attorneys need to be held accountable for the clients they voluntarily decide to represent.

Furthermore, Speaker Boehner has an army of in-house legal talent at the House of Representatives who could ably represent his position in court. If he is serious about cutting the deficit he needs to look to his in-house counsel to represent him in these proceedings, instead of spending taxpayer dollars for a service already provided to his office.”

Full statement of Robert D Hayes Jr, chairman of King & Spalding:

“Today the firm filed a motion to withdraw from its engagement to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives on the constitutional issues regarding Section III of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal.

“In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate. Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.”

Paul Clement has joined the boutique law firm of PATRIOT Act author Viet Dinh, Bancroft PLLC. The former Bush official called hiring Clement, in a statement to TPM, a ‘no-brainer:’

In an email to TPM, Bancroft PLLC founder Viet Dinh — the former Bush-era Justice Department official primarily responsible for authoring the PATRIOT Act — said that signing Clement was “a no brainer.”

“Paul wins the biggest cases and Bancroft solves the most complex problems,” Viet Dinh said in the email. “Paul brings to Bancroft an unparalleled record of success, integrity and — obviously — demonstrated commitment to the interests of his clients. We cannot be more proud of our new partner.”

Isn’t it great to see the G W Bush band getting back together, to defend discrimination against same-sex loving couples?

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Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge