Law firms drops out of defending ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ — Clement resigns

Paul Clement

Paul Clement

The Washington D.C. law firm King & Spalding has reversed course, and announced Monday it would not represent the U.S. House of Representatives in defending the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, prompting the resignation of partner Paul Clement, the firms’s partner who was to lead the defense, Politico reported.

King & Spalding Chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr., issued this statement through a spokesman, Les Zuke:

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.

The law firm had come under fire from LGBT advocacy groups since announcing April 18 that Clement — former President George W. Bush’s Solicitor, now head of King & Spalding’s national appellate practice — had been retained to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) last week announced an effort to “educate” clients and potential recruits of the law firm about its decision, including buying print ads bearing the word “Shame” and sending letters to clients and top law schools.

The HRC praised King & Spalding’s decision on Monday, and said the firm has “rightly chosen to put principle above politics in dropping its involvement in the defense of this discriminatory and patently unconstitutional law.”

Paul Clement

Today’s announcement by King & Spalding to withdraw from representing the U.S. House prompted Clement’s resignation:

“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. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do,” Clement wrote to King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays.

“I recognized from the outset that this statute implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable course for me but to complete it.”

Clement said he will join Bancroft Associates PLLC, a Washington-based firm that is home to Viet Dinh, who, from 2001 to 2003, served as the U.S. Assistant Attorney General under President George W. Bush.

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