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King & Spalding Withdraws from Defense of DOMA; Partner Paul Clement Resigns
King & Spalding, the law firm hired to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by House Republicans, has withdrawn from the case. As a result, the partner hired to lead the case, Paul Clement, a former Bush administration Solicitor, has resigned from the firm, saying, “I resign out of the firmly held belief that” a lawyer should not abandon his client “because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters”, according to the April 25th article at npr.org, “Law Firm Drops Defense Of DOMA”.
The Atlanta based law firm has become the target of harsh criticism by gay rights activists ever since it accepted the case.
King & Spalding Chairman Robert Hays was quoted as saying that the decision to withdraw came after it was determined the firm’s vetting process was “inadequate.”
However, Clement stated in his resignation letter that “if there were problems with the firm’s vetting process, we should fix the vetting process, not drop the representation.” He was also quoted as saying: “I would have never undertaken this matter unless I believed I had the full backing of the firm. 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.”
In an interview with NPR, Clement stated: “More important than any one issue is the idea that we have an adversary system of justice, and it just doesn’t work if you say that defending one side of the controversy is completely out of bounds.”
Following his resignation from King & Spalding, Clement has joined the firm of Bancroft PLLC, which was founded by Viet D. Dinh, a fellow Bush administration official. There, he will continue to represent the House in defense of DOMA.
Jeff Graham, the executive director of the gay-rights group Georgia Equality was quoted as saying: “Many of us were stunned, shocked and angered when it became known that King & Spalding had taken on this case, and we are gratefully relieved to find out they had withdrawn. The legal case is something that is really a thinly veiled political attack on gay and lesbian couples and families.”