Law firm backs out of DOMA defense, partner resigns in protest

posted at 1:35 pm on April 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

After the White House abandoned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),  the House of Representatives under Speaker John Boehner decided to defend the law and hired an Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, to represent the government in the appeals.  Activists opposed to DOMA vehemently protested the law firm’s decision to take the case, and today King & Spalding dropped the case:

The Atlanta law firm King & Spalding on Monday filed a motion to withdraw from its participation in defending the Defense of Marriage Act, prompting the immediate resignation of high-profile partner Paul Clement.

The law firm had come under fire from gay rights groups when partner Clement agreed to defend the law for Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives. The act defines marriage as only a union between a man and a woman.

“Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal,” Robert D. Hays Jr., the firm’s chairman said.  “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.”

Clement, the head of King & Spalding’s national appellate practice, was to be paid $520 an hour for his representation. He once served as U.S. solicitor general for President George W. Bush.  The Obama administration has said it will no longer defend the law in court.

As noted, Clement resigned from the firm after the decision, and he wasn’t quiet at all about why he left:

“Efforts to delegitimize any representation for one side of a legal controversy are a profound threat to the rule of law,” Clement continues.  “Much has been said about being on the wrong side of history.  But being on the right or wrong side on the merits is a question for clients.  When it comes to the lawyers, the surest way to be on the wrong side of history is to abandon a client in the face of hostile criticism.”

In his resignation letter, Clement also takes a direct shot at Hays, the firm’s chairman, who earlier today said through a spokesman that “the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate” — that is, that King & Spalding had not sufficiently looked into the issue before taking the case. “I would never have undertaken this matter unless I believed I had the full backing of the firm,” Clement writes.  “I recognized from the outset that this statute [DOMA] implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides.”

“If there were problems with the firms’ vetting process,” Clement says, “we should fix the vetting process, not drop the representation.”

When attorneys represent clients who murder, molest children, or embezzle billions, those who criticize the lawyers usually get lectured on the right to representation for clients and how that serves a higher purpose.  Of course, those are criminal defendants at risk of their lives or a substantial chunk thereof from the government.  However, the same defense routinely gets applied to personal-injury attorneys and class-action warriors.  The same Left that chased King & Spalding, for instance, also helped put John Edwards on the Democratic ticket in 2004 and nearly did it again in 2008.

I have no trouble with criticizing the choice of attorneys in defending the creeps in specific cases, as well as having no trouble with the general defenses of those decisions.  Attorneys get hired to represent clients in court, and while individual attorneys are open to criticism for the cases they take, the real issue is usually the cases themselves rather than the attorneys involved.  The usual “vetting process” is whether the client can pay the bill, and the House had agreed to a fee of $520 an hour.  I’m no lawyer, but that sounds like pretty good money to me, and it’s curious that K&S has suddenly discovered a vetting problem with a client like the House of Representatives and a fee that solid.  It sounds a lot more like intimidation than a process-oriented decision.

Plenty of other attorneys and firms will be happy to take the case and the money, and to show just a wee bit more testicular fortitude than Robert D. Hays, Jr.


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Jetboy ……………… blood is in the water and the anti-gay crowd is in a feeding frenzy. Meanwhile life goes on.

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM

That’s all. Zeke on gays is about as neutral as Cindy Sheehan on George W Bush. If anything, Cindy is more fair….

Vanceone on April 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM

OK, that explains it.

Thanks.

sharrukin on April 25, 2011 at 4:00 PM

They didn’t drop this case because of gay pressure. I believe it was gay blackmail in the form of several 8×10 glossies of one of the top partners doing something that wouldn’t look good in the AJC. Most law firms will take ANY kind of case if it is well sorted and the client can pay. The message that this law firm just sent to the world is that if the case is politically sensitive, then they won’t take it. Does this mean that if they were working a case where something politically nasty came up they would drop it? This is like the electronically controlled safety on a pistol where you never know ahead of time if it will fire or not due to low batteries or a short. NO one wants to trust their lives to that pistol.

inspectorudy on April 25, 2011 at 4:03 PM

That’s all. Zeke on gays is about as neutral as Cindy Sheehan on George W Bush. If anything, Cindy is more fair….

Vanceone on April 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM

“Zekecorlain”, or whatever he calls himself over here, is also a frequent liberal troll on other blogs like GayPatriot, where he is famous for his statement that not only can fifteen-year-olds have consensual sex, that those who disagree with them doing so need their “moral compasses” adjusted. He’s also famously antireligious and bigoted towards anyone who expresses Christian beliefs.

In short, he’s the kind of gay and lesbian person from which the gay and lesbian community gets its reputation.

northdallasthirty on April 25, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I would say that there was a chance that they have a conflict of interest and cannot take the case but the partner’s resignation letter suggests otherwise.

Captain Kirock on April 25, 2011 at 4:12 PM

The sodomy lobby is trying to create sexual dhimmis, and they are making progress.

Akzed on April 25, 2011 at 2:09 PM

I had been wondering about all the people handing out Korans, when I go to the Pittsburgh Gay Pride event. Obviously, the sado-masochists club that started whipping a guy in front of the gay Jewish group is a Muslim front group. (A grandmotherly Jewish lesbian told the sado-masochists to go away and they did.)

thuja on April 25, 2011 at 4:14 PM

The usual “vetting process” is whether the client can pay the bill, and the House had agreed to a fee of $520 an hour. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds like pretty good money to me, and it’s curious that K&S has suddenly discovered a vetting problem with a client like the House of Representatives and a fee that solid. It sounds a lot more like intimidation than a process-oriented decision.

Plenty of other attorneys and firms will be happy to take the case and the money, and to show just a wee bit more testicular fortitude than Robert D. Hays, Jr. – Ed Morrissey

I am sure that some firm will be more than happy to enter the battle. I suppose that DOMA needs to be defended in court by someone. I am gay, I am not for gay marriage. Not for hate crime legislation. I just want to live my life in peace. But I can smell the hatred pouring forth from some of the posters on this subject.

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

“…the wrong side of history” is one of the most pernicious phrases in the vernacular nowadays. It is meant to intimidate; it’s old-fashioned high school peer pressure as applied by influential progressives. Even in the face of every popular vote to date (as opposed to non-binding opinion polls) going against same-sex marriage, it’s institution and acceptance is commonly treated in the mainstream media as a fait accompli. What is actually meant when “You’re on the wrong side of history” is said is “Eventually, we will win, and when we do, we’ll make certain you and your reputation will be punished for being on the losing side. So you might as well give up right now, and spare yourself the wrath we might wreak upon you.”

Epitomizing such attitudes when it comes to same-sex marriage is Sean Penn’s acceptance speech when he won the Academy Award for his role in the Harvey Milk biopic:

“I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame, and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

Hear that, America? Your precious grandkids that give you those big hugs now will hate your freakin’ guts when we convince them you are all hateful bigots.

Here’s the problem when one side cowardly surrenders the field in cultural battles like this: When the other side wins without resistance, they go hog wild. Here’s an imperfect parallel on which you might ruminate: We all laugh now at how in 1956, gyrating rock sensation Elvis Presley was only shot from the waist up when singing on television. What a bunch of prudes our grandparents were, right? Ha, ha, ha. Fast forward fifty-five years later: It’s been over a year since Adam Lambert simulated oral sex with writhing, barely-dressed dancers in leather bondage gear on live TV, and currently the #1 song on the Billboard pop charts is about sado-masochism (“S&M” by Rihanna).

Think about it.

L.N. Smithee on April 25, 2011 at 4:26 PM

The usual “vetting process” is whether the client can pay the bill, and the House had agreed to a fee of $520 an hour. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds like pretty good money to me, and it’s curious that K&S has suddenly discovered a vetting problem with a client like the House of Representatives and a fee that solid. It sounds a lot more like intimidation than a process-oriented decision.
Plenty of other attorneys and firms will be happy to take the case and the money, and to show just a wee bit more testicular fortitude than Robert D. Hays, Jr. – Ed Morrissey
I am sure that some firm will be more than happy to enter the battle. I suppose that DOMA needs to be defended in court by someone. I am gay, I am not for gay marriage. Not for hate crime legislation. I just want to live my life in peace. But I can smell the hatred pouring forth from some of the posters on this subject.
SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

I don’t hate gay people – I just don’t trust those who seem to be driving the “gay agenda”. It seems to me they want more government involvement and government sanction rather than to be left alone.

gwelf on April 25, 2011 at 4:28 PM

In short, he’s the kind of gay and lesbian person from which the gay and lesbian community gets its reputation.
northdallasthirty on April 25, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Yeah, 98% of the gay community gives the other 2% a bad name.

Akzed on April 25, 2011 at 4:29 PM

this whole thing makes me LMAO!! Corporations responding to market pressure? = Capitalism, Corporations responding to gay positive market pressure = SUPER FASCIST COMMUNISM!!!!!

Zekecorlain on April 25, 2011 at 4:33 PM

@Azked @ND30 that’s funny cause your the poster child of a compartmentalized self hating gay, who fully indulges in the gay social life while privately cursing it on any blog you can find. The fact that you live with a man, attend gay functions, are out of the closet, and still find the need to bash every gay, while claiming that being gay is inherently evil. Well you’re a therapist’s wet dream basically.

Have fun at the family reunion!

Zekecorlain on April 25, 2011 at 4:37 PM

@Azked @ND30 that’s funny cause your the poster child of a compartmentalized self hating gay, who fully indulges in the gay social life while privately cursing it on any blog you can find. The fact that you live with a man, attend gay functions, are out of the closet, and still find the need to bash every gay, while claiming that being gay is inherently evil. Well you’re a therapist’s wet dream basically.

Have fun at the family reunion!

Zekecorlain on April 25, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Projection.

You seem very jealous, Tim/zekecorlain, that there are gay and lesbian people out there who can enjoy a rich and full life while still being normal people, instead of child-raping anti-capitalist antireligious bigots like yourself.

Perhaps if you were capable of separating your sexual orientation from your political and social beliefs, you would be able to do this. But without having your sexual orientation as an excuse, it’s pretty obvious that your belief in sex with underage children, demands that religious people be stripped of their constitutional rights and denied the ability to vote, and utter hatred of anyone with more money, possessions, and success than you have to the point of demanding wholesale government confiscation would NOT be in any way socially acceptable.

You use being gay as your excuse for being an irrational bigot. And unfortunately, in the process, you HAVE made being gay “intrinsically evil” — given that you shriek that any gay or lesbian person who does not support your child-raping, antireligious, and class-warfare viewpoint is “self-hating”, you make it clear that all gay and lesbian people ARE as evil as you are.

Your blaming the fact that you are a sorry specimen of humankind on the fact that you are gay is the problem here. Nothing else.

northdallasthirty on April 25, 2011 at 5:01 PM

The usual “vetting process” is whether the client can pay the bill, and the House had agreed to a fee of $520 an hour. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds like pretty good money to me, and it’s curious that K&S has suddenly discovered a vetting problem with a client like the House of Representatives and a fee that solid. It sounds a lot more like intimidation than a process-oriented decision.

Plenty of other attorneys and firms will be happy to take the case and the money, and to show just a wee bit more testicular fortitude than Robert D. Hays, Jr. – Ed Morrissey

I am sure that some firm will be more than happy to enter the battle. I suppose that DOMA needs to be defended in court by someone. I am gay, I am not for gay marriage. Not for hate crime legislation. I just want to live my life in peace. But I can smell the hatred pouring forth from some of the posters on this subject.

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

I submit that your nose is hypersensitive to certain hatreds, and completely immune to others, for instance the kind of hatred that often greets proponents of the traditional definition of marriage.

applebutter on April 25, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Thought this was worth posting…

I think it’s important for lawyers on the other side of the political divide from Paul, who’s a very fine lawyer, to reaffirm what Paul wrote [in his resignation letter from King & Spalding]. Paul is entirely correct that our adversary system depends on vigorous advocates being willing to take on even very unpopular positions. Having undertaken to defend DOMA, he’s acting in the highest professional and ethical traditions in continuing to represent a client to whom he had committed in this very charged matter.
-Seth Waxman, former U.S. Solicitor General (under President Clinton)

crr6 on April 25, 2011 at 5:29 PM

I think it’s important for lawyers on the other side of the political divide from Paul, who’s a very fine lawyer, to reaffirm what Paul wrote [in his resignation letter from King & Spalding]. Paul is entirely correct that our adversary system depends on vigorous advocates being willing to take on even very unpopular positions. Having undertaken to defend DOMA, he’s acting in the highest professional and ethical traditions in continuing to represent a client to whom he had committed in this very charged matter. -Seth Waxman, former U.S. Solicitor General (under President Clinton)

So the battle continues. Will our society be hurt if the courts rule in favor of gay marriage?

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 6:06 PM

@northdallasthirty whose practicing projection now? I have a normal life, friends, family, god kids, the desire for a family. I don’t need religious people like you wandering into my life and trying to project their own fears about abnormality on a normal life. The religious idea that homosexuality is not a normal human sexual expression is wrong based on every scientific study of humans and animals. There fore if you want to belong to a religion that teaches that gay people should be stoned, shunned, or discriminated against than I have to wonder who is delusional? Your the one championing law makers and laws that limit my ability to hold a job, adopt kids, and get married. YOU. I’m pushing for the repeal

Zekecorlain on April 25, 2011 at 6:09 PM

So the battle continues. Will our society be hurt if the courts rule in favor of gay marriage?

SC.Charlie on April 25, 2011 at 6:06 PM

With 0bama making UNconstitutional decisions on an almost DAILY basis I cannot say for certain that anyone would notice the change, yet THIS remains relevant:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Once the freedom to prohibit HOMOsexual ‘Unions’ is taken away from many of our religions just how long until they shut YOU up too?

Why do I have a feeling that it wouldn’t apply to the Muslims? /sarc

DannoJyd on April 25, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Once the freedom to prohibit HOMOsexual ‘Unions’ is taken away from many of our religions just how long until they shut YOU up too?

Why do I have a feeling that it wouldn’t apply to the Muslims? /sarc

DannoJyd on April 25, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Religions already turn away couples who don’t qualify based on doctrine. They continue to do so in states with gay marriage.

dedalus on April 25, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Religions already turn away couples who don’t qualify based on doctrine. They continue to do so in states with gay marriage.

dedalus on April 25, 2011 at 9:06 PM

So what? Do YOU actually believe that they will not go after the churches next?

DannoJyd on April 25, 2011 at 9:45 PM

So what? Do YOU actually believe that they will not go after the churches next?

DannoJyd on April 25, 2011 at 9:45 PM

They’ll lose. The feminists weren’t able to force churches to change.

dedalus on April 25, 2011 at 9:50 PM

John at Power Line posted this a couple of hours ago. Excerpt:

I have always been proud to be a lawyer, for one reason: even mediocre lawyers fight like hell for their clients. You may not have a friend in the world, but if you hire a lawyer you get his or her undivided loyalty. No matter what the rest of the world thinks of you, your lawyer is on your side. Period. And it is remarkable how often a lawyer’s vigorous representation of a client who was despised, and whose position was thought hopeless, has carried the day.

When a major law firm like King & Spalding puts politics above its duty of loyalty to its client, it is a sad day for our profession and for our country.

Entire article

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/04/028897.php

Del Dolemonte on April 25, 2011 at 10:38 PM

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