King & Spalding withdraws as counsel in gay-marriage case

Earlier this month, Paul Clement, a high-powered Washington partner in the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, agreed to represent House Speaker John Boehner and the House of Representatives in their effort to defend the constitutionality of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

But King & Spalding, it seems, has had second thoughts. The law firm’s chairman, Robert Hays, announced today that the firm had made a mistake in accepting the case, explaining that the decision had not been properly vetted before the announcement.

In response, Clement resigned, effective immediately. (His resignation letter can be found here.) He did so “out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in some quarters,” and said that he will continue to handle the case at another firm.

I can’t comment on the internal vetting process that occurred or didn’t occur at King & Spalding before Clement, who served as solicitor general under President Bush, agreed to take the case. But Clement is certainly right about the fundamental importance of even unpopular clients and causes being represented in court. Back in 2007 and 2010, you may recall, lawyers who volunteered to represent detainees at Guantanamo were attacked as unpatriotic in some quarters. So while I think Clement’s wrong and hope he loses, I’m glad he’s sticking with the case as a matter of principle.

That said, it’s stunning that blocking gay marriage is now considered such an unpopular cause that such a step was even necessary.

UPDATE at 6:20 p.m.: A commenter below points to a possible complicating factor. It appears that Clement, as a K&S partner, signed a contract with the House and Boehner in which he agreed to bar all firm employees, including those not in any way involved in the case, from publicly advocating the overturn of DOMA. It’s conceivable that those provisions of the contract stirred opposition among other K&S personnel, leading to the claim by its chairman that the engagement had not been properly vetted.

– Jay Bookman

409 comments Add your comment

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:27 pm

The Bolsheviks won!

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:28 pm

“But King & Spalding, it seems, has had second thoughts.”

You mean the Bolsheviks attacked King & Spalding and FORCED them to withdraw.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:29 pm

Gay folks and Guantanamo? Uhh…excuse me while I contemplate THAT analogy…

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

April 25th, 2011
3:31 pm

Hiya, josef.

Trust you had a good passover.

Boehner is just the poster boy for the fact that homophobes still abound in this country…

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:32 pm

Probably not the most popular stance for “one of them” to be taking…but, sorry, if you said you would, then do it..otherwise your credibility is up to question…

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:32 pm

The Politically Correct Leftwing Radicals (you know the ones that are for free speech until they don’t agree with what you say) put a stop to King & Spalding’s representation of the House:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/22/law-firm-defense-marriage-backlash-legal-colleges_n_852050.html

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:35 pm

AmVet

Was a good one…’bout 8:45 I’ll have my ham and cheese on white bread with mayo! Tradition!!

:-)

As for Boehner et al. It’s just more of politicking with someone else’s life…wonder how fierce an adovocate Ima Gonna will be on this one….

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:36 pm

USMC

Bolsheviks? Nyanh…they were anti-gay…they’re the Boehner bunch here…you mean the Menschviks… :-)

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

April 25th, 2011
3:38 pm

josef, glad to hear it. And that does sound like my kind of tradition!

Ima Gonna will deal with it after he deals with GITMO, habeus corpus, sanctioned (illegal?) spying on Americans, Iraq, Afghanistan, cracking down on Wall Street, corporate welfare and on and on and…

USMC, did you drop the dawg half from your moniker?

Peadawg

April 25th, 2011
3:39 pm

It’s amazing seeing the difference between Jay and Cynthia’s articles on this subject. Nice, well written article, Jay.

getalife

April 25th, 2011
3:39 pm

They just got to discriminate but forget they will be the minority soon.

No con marriage.

How do you like that cons?

Well, your wives would be happy.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:40 pm

AmVet

Yeah, DOMA no doubt is way down on his list…gotta keep the Bush policies in effect, ya know…

Peadawg

April 25th, 2011
3:41 pm

On topic though…looks like political correctness won again. Good job, Clement, in sticking with it!

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

April 25th, 2011
3:44 pm

Jay

I’m in agreement. Even if it’s not popular, stick with your guns. I can respect a man that stands for his principles, even if I don’t agree with him. That says a lot about someone’s character.

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:45 pm

“Bolsheviks? Nyanh…they were anti-gay…they’re the Boehner bunch here…you mean the Menschviks… :-)

Thanks Josef,
but they are not anti-gay. They just believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.
All men are allowed to marry and all women are allowed to marry. Just like it has been for THOUSANDS of years.

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
3:45 pm

“That said, it’s stunning that blocking gay marriage is now considered such an unpopular cause that such a step was even necessary.”

If it’s so unpopular, why did it pass on a public ballot referendum in uber-liberal California?

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:47 pm

“USMC, did you drop the dawg half from your moniker?”

Yeah, its me Amvet.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:48 pm

USMC

Thousands of years? Not even in the Western Judeo-Christian cultures (permitted by the early Byzantines) not to mention various and sundry cultures around the world…but…if we are going to claim one-man/one woman til death do you part, then we can’t have divorce and remarriage either…seriously. If we’re going to go there, then let’s go full tilt boogie…no nookie if not specifically for procreation…and on and on and on…

getalife

April 25th, 2011
3:48 pm

Looks like it will be legal soon.

Don’t worry cons.

You still have the immigrants to discriminate against..

stands for decibels

April 25th, 2011
3:49 pm

While it may sound virtuous to support those who support unpopular causes, is it really so great to support an unpopular cause that also happens to be truly vile?

(Cynthia Tucker, in her piece on the same subject, correctly differentiated between the defense of people and defense of ideas.)

I guess my first impression is, I’m not seeing any great principle at work here, mostly just some high-paid guy (Clement) whose feefees have been hurted.

Intown

April 25th, 2011
3:49 pm

I disagree with Jay on one point. Unlike the Guantanamo detainees whose defense reinforces the rights of all accused in this country, the defense of marriage act needs no defender. Nothing about it or its defense adds any value to our nation. I not only hope Clement loses, but I hope he sees the error he is making in taking the case at all.

stands for decibels

April 25th, 2011
3:50 pm

it’s stunning that blocking gay marriage is now considered such an unpopular cause that such a step was even necessary.

stunning in a good way, yep.

Peadawg

April 25th, 2011
3:50 pm

You still have the illegal immigrants to discriminate against..

Fixed your typo, getalife. No thanks needed. And since when did upholding the law = discriminating?

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

April 25th, 2011
3:50 pm

then let’s go full tilt boogie…no nookie if not specifically for procreation
:shock:

C’Mon Man!!!!! That’s just wrong. :)

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
3:51 pm

“Don’t worry cons.

You still have the immigrants to discriminate against..”

Liberals love to thrash straw men…

Granny Godzilla

April 25th, 2011
3:52 pm

Big time lawyer for only 500 bucks an hour? Actually that’s a deal.

Stupid, but it’s a deal…..

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

April 25th, 2011
3:52 pm

The War on Progress, started by the Reagan administration, was the very beginning of this bizarre attempt to constantly legislate morality.

And spelled the end of actual conservatism in the GOP.

I was just curious USMC, carry on…

jconservative

April 25th, 2011
3:52 pm

DOMA is on its last leg Constitutionally.

But Jay is 100% correct and I believe King & Spalding made a mistake. Everyone is entitled to a defense in court.

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:53 pm

President Obama is ANTI- gay marriage as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73oZ_pe1MZ8

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:54 pm

“I was just curious USMC, carry on…”

Thank you Amvet, I will be in the area all day long, carry on, soldier.

stands for decibels

April 25th, 2011
3:54 pm

Everyone is entitled to a defense in court.

everyONE, sure.

everyTHING?

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
3:55 pm

“President Obama is ANTI- gay marriage as well:”

Well, to be accurate, he was against it before he was for it. Kind of like;

Bush tax cuts
Iraq
Afghanistan
Gitmo
budget deficits
etc

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
3:56 pm

I’m confused, was it Barry Soetoro who was against gay marriage and Barack Hussein Obama who is for it, or vice-versa?

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
3:56 pm

SFD

I have to disagree….upopular ideas come down to who is making that determination…vile? When I was a lad coming to terms with all this, we were still considered a mental illness…and that was not considered at all an unpopular stance. In fact in a perverted sort of way, it was “progressive” for the times…

No, this idea in a democratic society should be afforded its hearing as well…and, well, it IS the law, ya know…

stands for decibels

April 25th, 2011
3:57 pm

no nookie if not specifically for procreation…

Lessee—Newt, Clarence Thomas, Pat Buchannan—your marriages are hereby kaput.

Granny Godzilla

April 25th, 2011
3:57 pm

““President Obama is ANTI- gay marriage as well:””

So much for we all bow down to the Messiah’s wishes, eh what?

Knuckleheads

Normal

April 25th, 2011
3:58 pm

Hi ya, Josef!

AmVet,
Don’t pick on Bohner, he’ll cry…

USMC

April 25th, 2011
3:59 pm

“Thousands of years? Not even in the Western Judeo-Christian cultures (permitted by the early Byzantines) not to mention various and sundry cultures around the world…but…if we are going to claim one-man/one woman til death do you part, then we can’t have divorce and remarriage either…seriously. If we’re going to go there, then let’s go full tilt boogie…no nookie if not specifically for procreation…and on and on and on…”

Your the teacher, josef. I will take your lead. But can we interest you in a “Civil Union” with the same exacts rights? Or are you merely intent on smearing what has ALWAYS been known as marriage. Personally, I don’t care.
But Civil Unions make more sense. Are we now going to let a man marry multiple wives or marry his dog?
But like I said, I don’t care who or what you marry.

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
3:59 pm

He did so “out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in some quarters,”

It’s not the legal position that’s unpopular, it’s the (im)moral position that’s unpopular. It’s immoral to discriminate based on your beliefs… why does he have a problem understanding that? It’s not a “conservative position” at all; Ted Olson is one of the lawyers fighting against the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendement in California and he was a Bush appointee as well. Anti-gay marriage is an immoral position masquerading as a moral position.

Where's My Party?

April 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

Let it go Republicans. Move on and let it go. Gay marriage has no impact on governance. Or on anyone’s life other than those getting married, so please, if you are a member of the wing of the Republican Party…move on. Let it go.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

April 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

An attorney in partnership with other attorneys has to take into account the agreements and rules of the partnership and the impact on other partner’s clients. There are a number of ethic considerations in taking on the so-called DOMA law. This is not providing a right to an attorney under a constitutional principle such the right to legal counsel. A pedophile in a criminal matter has the right to a defense against the law not necessarily the pedophile’s claim that sex with children should be permitted.

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

April 25th, 2011
4:01 pm

President Obama is ANTI- gay marriage as well:

Not what he appeared to be, huh?

Which is why I laughed my arse off, back in 2008, when the nearly universal right-wing lament was, “BHO’s the most liberal person in the entire US Senate!!!”

But then that was the exact same group of people, who only recently determined that GWB and gang were not conservatives.

At least they’re consistent!

http://tinyurl.com/3nw7k7e

Granny Godzilla

April 25th, 2011
4:01 pm

USMC

You wanna marry your dog? Go for it.

I’ll do the reception.

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:01 pm

Galloway reported earlier, by the way, that a group was going to start organizing boycotts of K&S… wonder if that had something to do with their re-examination of the decision to take the case.

stands for decibels

April 25th, 2011
4:02 pm

I have to disagree….upopular ideas come down to who is making that determination…vile?

Hey, I’ll include my own (teeny) piece of the blame, given that there was a time when I sided with those who would deny domestic partner rights to gays. It’s been a long time, but I had to see the light and step out of the dank corners of ignorance.

Some people just take longer, I realize.

Jay

April 25th, 2011
4:03 pm

I think that attempted distinction between idea and person is false and dangerous. You can’t define an idea as immoral and deny it the right to be heard and effectively advocated.

Gay marriage itself is an idea that was once considered immoral, and of course still is by many. All sides have a right to be heard; all sides have the right to effective counsel.

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:04 pm

“USMC

You wanna marry your dog? Go for it.”

Wow…the battlefield is littered with straw men…

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:05 pm

josef, howyu doin?

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:05 pm

You can’t define an idea as immoral and deny it the right to be heard and effectively advocated.

And yet, Jay, that’s what the anti-gay marriage side is doing. Defining the idea as “immoral” and then denying rights based on that. Seems only fair to return the favor with gusto until everyone gets that they’re not always going to be in the marjority and starts to play nice.

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:06 pm

FWIW, all true conservatives know that marriage should not be the domain of government anyway.

USMC

April 25th, 2011
4:06 pm

Jay, why are you moderating my statement @4:03?

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

“Seems only fair to return the favor with gusto until everyone gets that they’re not always going to be in the marjority and starts to play nice.”

Kind of like 90% voting to make the top 10% pay all the taxes, huh?

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

FWIW, all true conservatives know that marriage should not be the domain of government anyway.

… except to adjudicate and standardize the details of the civil contract… I can agree with that.

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

Granny G…..He could marry a dog, but wouldn’t the Wedding Planner be gay?

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

Kind of like 90% voting to make the top 10% pay all the taxes, huh?

Let me know when that happens, Strawman.

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

but wouldn’t the Wedding Planner be gay?

“We’ll have a gaaaay old time!

WILMAAAAA!!!!!”

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

And just to be sure we’re clear,,,the state is not in the “marriage” buisness…the state’s interest is in civil union…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when everybody seeking state sanction is required a license of civil union obtained at the civil union license bureau, we’ll have equality…marriage? L-rd, G-d, if after 35 years of a relationship foresaking all others with Unmentionable, we’re not married, then just what are we? And if we wanted to we could go and have it sanctioned by a rabbi, complete with ketubah, chuppah, glass smashing, carted about the room in chairs, and a rousing Havah Nagilah…the whole nine yards and what the state, Boehner and the anti-faction here has to say about it absent from consideration…

USMC

April 25th, 2011
4:09 pm

“Granny G…..He could marry a dog, but wouldn’t the Wedding Planner be gay?”

Only if I had enough money to get a good wedding planner:-)

Keep Up the Good Fight!

April 25th, 2011
4:09 pm

Jay, ther is not constitutional right to legal counsel in a non-criminal matter. We accepted daily that families in divorce may not have legal counsel, businesses have no right to legal counsel even if they cannot afford them (and they are required to have legal counsel in any court excluding magistrates court in Georgia), people may not have legal counsel to perform many civil matters and there is no obligation to provide that representation.

getalife

April 25th, 2011
4:09 pm

Government should stay out of our bedrooms.

It is weird.

TaxPayer

April 25th, 2011
4:12 pm

I think straw men should be thrashed.

Granny Godzilla

April 25th, 2011
4:12 pm

Harry

That would be straw dog, and yes it was litter added to the battlefield by your side.

I just offered to be gracious as to his possible pick for a life partner…so don’t try the “ruff” stuff with me…..

pogo

April 25th, 2011
4:15 pm

josef @ 3:29. That one has me flummoxed to.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:15 pm

BADA

Doing fine and dandy, thankee,,,ready and raring to go and the Ole Bruin gave me a pork chop to gnaw on… :-)

Doggone/GA

April 25th, 2011
4:17 pm

“all true conservatives know that marriage should not be the domain of government anyway”

Marriage is a legal contract…and as such, is VERY MUCH in the “domain” of the government. It is RELIGION that should stay our of marriage.

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:18 pm

“Let me know when that happens, Strawman.”

ByteMe,

So you libbies aren’t arguing that the rich should pay more taxes? Sorry if I mis-interpreted your rants.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:18 pm

USMC

See my @ 4:08 on civil union…

pogo

April 25th, 2011
4:19 pm

“Government should stay out of our bedrooms”. Just as we should stay out of theirs (for fear of being blinded, mentally corrupted or something much, much worse!).

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:20 pm

AmVet

Obama and his California gambit on “gay marriage…” One of the reasons I didn’t vote for him…

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:21 pm

USMC….I have asked this before, Why do Gay men see ‘ecru’, but straight guys see ‘tan’? Genetics, or environment?

jm

April 25th, 2011
4:23 pm

Chalk this one up to displeasure from K&S’s corporate clients that were extremely displeased with K&S’s name being on this case. Money talks….

RW-(the original)

April 25th, 2011
4:23 pm

ketubah, chuppah, glass smashing, carted about the room in chairs, and a rousing Havah Nagilah

josef,

It sounds worth going through with just for whatever all those things are. Don’t forget my invitation. :-)

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:23 pm

Taxpayer…..Would you bale a Straw Man out of jail?

USMC

April 25th, 2011
4:24 pm

“USMC….I have asked this before, Why do Gay men see ‘ecru’, but straight guys see ‘tan’? Genetics, or environment?” LOL!

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:25 pm

Sorry if I mis-interpreted your rants.

Apology accepted. Try to do better.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:26 pm

RW

Well, I said, IF we wanted to…we don’t want to…we just want to sign a piece of paper down to the court house along with everybody else who wants state sanction for the union…cuts down on the paperwork…

Doggone/GA

April 25th, 2011
4:27 pm

“Why do Gay men see ‘ecru’, but straight guys see ‘tan’? Genetics, or environment?”

Neither. They only say that because they know it annoys people like you.

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:27 pm

Granny….if he married a dog, does that mean he likes ‘Ruff Sex’?

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:27 pm

BADA

Ecru or tan? Some of us are partially color blind and have no idea! It all looks, well, pinkish-brownish to me… :-)

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

April 25th, 2011
4:28 pm

josef

It’s not about what y’all want. RW and I want the party… Don’t forget my invite too!! :)

USMC

April 25th, 2011
4:29 pm

“USMC, See my @ 4:08 on civil union…”-josef Nix

Mazel tov! Josef:-)

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:29 pm

All’s I can say is I’ve seen more than one breeder married to a dog!

RW-(the original)

April 25th, 2011
4:30 pm

It’s not about what y’all want. RW and I want the party

Damn right! It’s out of your hands now, josef.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:31 pm

SoCo

The party was YEARS ago!! :-)

Doggone/GA

April 25th, 2011
4:31 pm

” It all looks, well, pinkish-brownish to me… ”

Yep, you must be colorblind! Since neither one is “pinkish”!

say what?

April 25th, 2011
4:32 pm

“The Politically Correct Leftwing Radicals (you know the ones that are for free speech until they don’t agree with what you say) put a stop to King & Spalding’s representation of the House:”

How is this an example of being against free speech? If K&S can’t take the heat of standing up for their convictions, that’s their problem.

pogo

April 25th, 2011
4:33 pm

One does have to wonder about the “unpopular in some quarters” bit though. I smell politics bigtime. Law firms are notorious predators that will abandon ANY cause at any time if it will cost them money and in this case they might have thought that persuing the case would cost them some “Washington” cases (aka, federal money) under the current administration.

As for Obama saying he was against gay marriage, who in the hell has ever really taken him seriously on anything that came out of his mouth? He knows that his base will support him no matter what. Wars and US casulaties? No problem now. Escalating food and fuel prices? No problem. Unstainable debt? No problem. We are not dealing with rational people here, we are dealing with pure political partisanship.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

April 25th, 2011
4:34 pm

The party was YEARS ago!!

I, I mean, RW and I demand a recount!!! :lol:

Dave R.

April 25th, 2011
4:34 pm

“USMC

You wanna marry your dog? Go for it.

Granny: I’ll do the reception.”

I’ll bring the treats! :D

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:36 pm

Doggone

I am partially…I can’t distinguish “shades” especially when up against one another…some of my canvases are, well, “unique!”

Doggone/GA

April 25th, 2011
4:36 pm

“How is this an example of being against free speech?”

say what – now pay attention, you’ve got to get this RIGHT, or you’ll never understand. When “liberals” disagree with the conned we are trying to suppress their freedom of speech. But when the conned disagree with the “liberals” it is upholding American values.

Got it now?

USMC

April 25th, 2011
4:36 pm

Maybe Obama will create another commission to work on the Gay marriage issue.

Obama has created one commission a month since taking office…
http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/04/obama-quick-study-creating-commissions

BADA BING

April 25th, 2011
4:36 pm

If he married a dog, and they had an argument, would he be in the …………all together now……Doghouse?

Dave R.

April 25th, 2011
4:37 pm

Missed you the last few days, josef.

Welcome back! :D

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:37 pm

I have encountered K&S here in the Atlanta business community. Suffice to say that they aren’t afraid to represent some really unscrupulous customers.

josef nix

April 25th, 2011
4:38 pm

SoCo, RW

We’ll make sure you get an invitation to the 50th Anniversay…that one should be a wing ding…Havah Nagilah in wheelchairs1 :-)

ByteMe

April 25th, 2011
4:38 pm

USMC: Is that the “Meme of the Day” for today?

>> Yawn <<

Harry Callahan

April 25th, 2011
4:38 pm

“Obama has created one commission a month since taking office…”

Well, he did vow to focus like a laser on jobs. Maybe this is what he meant.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

April 25th, 2011
4:39 pm

Doggone/GA

April 25th, 2011
4:39 pm

“I am partially”

Years ago when I wrote online documentation for a helpdesk office, I had to work with a guy with a form of colorblindness I’d never even heard of before. I would make important “notes” in bold red lettering and he couldn’t tell the difference between those and regular black. I had to work with him to get the depth of red color to where he could see it as different from black – except then he saw it as green!