Gay rights group targets King & Spalding in Atlanta

Last year, when Attorney General Thurbert Baker declined to join a federal lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s health care reform on behalf of Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue assigned the matter to outside counsel.

In Washington, House Republicans have done something of the same sort. The Obama administration last month announced it would no longer go to bat in court for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only a union between a man and woman.

So at $520 an hour, with the money coming out of their own taxpayer-fueled budget, House Republicans have hired Paul Clement of King & Spalding to defend the act. Paul Clement is a former U.S. solicitor general for President George W. Bush.

For a time, Clement was the lead counsel hired by Gov. Sonny Perdue to appeal a federal court ruling challenging Georgia’s access to the water in Lake Lanier for drinking purposes.

The law firm of King & Spalding has its origins in Atlanta, in the early 20th century. The firm has 15 other offices now, including one in D.C.

All of which is to explain why the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to gay rights, announced today that it would target King & Spalding in a campaign to encourage the firm to drop its newest client.

“The bottom line is that K&S was under no obligation to take this case. They consciously chose to defend a law that discriminates against LGBT Americans, including K&S’s LGBT employees and clients,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “Discrimination, no matter how profitable, is never good business.”

Law school students and clients of King & Spalding in Atlanta can expect attempts to draw them into the debate – even though the HRC admits that success is unlikely.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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103 comments Add your comment

What Would Judge Bell Do?

April 20th, 2011
2:09 pm

It’s a shame what King & Spalding has become. Back in the 50s, firm partners closely advised the Governor on a peaceful desegregation of Georgia’s public schools. We’re obviously a long way from that set of firm values.

I can’t imagine any gay attorneys feeling comfortable there now. This is the same firm, by the way, that does not have a single Black associate in it’s Washington, DC office. They are not exactly winning on the diversity front.

Pete

April 20th, 2011
2:18 pm

Marriage is a religious institution that the US government chooses to acknowledge. Whether or not a church wants to recognize same sex couples is one thing, but if the US is going to acknowledge the union of two people, there is no reason, excluding religious stances, why the right for gay couples to marry on a legal level should be restricted.

Get the government out of all of it I say. Besides, it’s not a gay or straight issue, it’s the legally single people who really get the short end of the stick, regardless of sexual orientation.

Centrist

April 20th, 2011
2:24 pm

The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities.

We now have a liberal president who has unilaterally decided the federal government can ignore it. Let’s hope that this is not a precedent as someday a conservative president might do the same concerning abortion, separation of church and state issues, or other such agendas.

Irony

April 20th, 2011
2:26 pm

Liberals advance so much of their social policy aims through the courts — and often with pro bono assistance from elite law firms like King & Spalding — that it must be frustrating to for once see the white shoe on the other foot.

Good for K&S.

UGA graduate

April 20th, 2011
2:29 pm

Pressure from wealthy coporate clients will cause KIng & Spalding to either drop this assine attorney or he will quietly withdrew from the case, citing family matters.

All the talk about the huge deficits that were run up during George Bush’s watch, seem now that Republicans have amnesia over their tax cuts. They seem to be all about spending when they are in control. The just don’t like any spending when Democrats are in charge. Why are the Republicans wasting our money on attorney fees defending this unconstitutional law.

Would KIng & Spalding defend a segregationist?

Lexi

April 20th, 2011
2:30 pm

K&S surely has a right to represent clients whose causes are unpopular, irrespective of the individual preferences of the chattering classes, or any very small subset of it in a snit. Fact is, most people –gasp–oppose “gay marriage.”

Further fact: K&S represents causes all over the political spectrum, including representing terrorists who are detained at Gitmo, and common criminals on death row for their acts.

bb

April 20th, 2011
2:30 pm

Once again showing Atlanta as behind the times compared to the rest of the major cities in the U.S. What a joke.

Native Atlantan2

April 20th, 2011
2:38 pm

A “snit”, really Lexi?

Foncused

April 20th, 2011
2:41 pm

@ Lexi – Actually, your “facts” are incorrect.

According to CNN/Opinion Poll released yesterday, April 19, 2011, the majority now support legalized gay marriage 51 – 47.

It goes on:

ABC News/Washington Post on March 13, 2011: 53 (favor) – 44 (oppose)
Pew Research on March 1, 2011: 45 (favor) – 46 (oppose)

These numbers all show trendlines in support of gay marriage. You can read the poll results yourself here: http://www.pollingreport.com/civil.htm

I wish people would actually get the “facts” before they post.

Irony

April 20th, 2011
2:41 pm

@ UGA graduate
1. I doubt they’ll drop the case due to pressure. Clement is possibly the best oral advocate in the country period and is certainly one of the top conservatives. It was a coup for them to get him. He has real power at the firm. And they are also, with him, building their appellate practice. While the controversy may drive away some clients, it’s quite a boost to the stature of that practice.

2. Had the DOJ defended DOMA as is its current practice, the outside attorney fees would be unnecessary. And it’s a drop in the bucket anyway.

3. It’s not at all clear the law is unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and traditions,” which is the constitutional test. And if criminal defendants deserve competent counsel in their cases, which they do, perhaps widely-approved bipartisan legislation should as well.

4. I doubt K&S would defend a segregationist. But I’m not sure the relevance of that.

SBinf

April 20th, 2011
2:43 pm

“The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities.”

Forgive my ignorance of the Constitution, but it was my understanding that the power to regulate such things as birth and death certificates, professional licensing, and marriage were reserved powers. That is, reserved for the states. Shouldn’t the so-called conservatives be incensed at this obvious breach by the federal government over the power of the states?

local yocal

April 20th, 2011
2:47 pm

Fact is Lexi, most people don’t oppose gay marriage. Latest poll numbers suggest the majority favor gay marriage. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51551.html

And your further facts do nothing more than suggest that K&S represents the worst of the worst, including those Republican house members wasting our taxpayer dollars.

DannyX

April 20th, 2011
2:49 pm

“Fact is, most people –gasp–oppose “gay marriage.””

Gasp!!!!! Not true. This issue is quickly moving in the direction of public acceptance of gay marriage.

In fact all the latest polls on gay marriage show exactly that,

CNN…51% favor….47 oppose
ABC…53% favor….44 oppose
Pew Research…45% favor….46 oppose

Average of all 2011 polls on gay marriage, 48.75% favor….44.25 oppose

Typical Redneck

April 20th, 2011
2:50 pm

Let me get this straight (no pun intended). The gays want their right to marry, but don’t want King & Spalding to have the right to represent whom they please?

AJ

April 20th, 2011
2:50 pm

I don’t think gay marriage should be prohibited, but neither do I think that it should receive the automatic protections of law in the same way as marriage. Government has a right to promote long-lasting relationships which (are supposed to)serve the cause of procreating the next generation of society and serving as the backbone of civilization. Obviously there are plenty of G/L couples who serve as great role models to adopted children, and plenty of married couples who serve as horrible role models, but the general principle is there.

SBinf

April 20th, 2011
2:53 pm

“Government has a right to promote long-lasting relationships which (are supposed to)serve the cause of procreating the next generation of society and serving as the backbone of civilization.”

I suppose women who are past childbearing age should be prohibited from marrying too, then?

Kev

April 20th, 2011
2:54 pm

What happened to the Republicans and Tea baggers who were elected who said their number one priority was “jobs, jobs, jobs”? Funny how they’re spending so much time (and money) on their social agenda while not having created one job.

GaBlue

April 20th, 2011
2:56 pm

Typical Redneck,

Actually, “the gays” are exercising their right to speak out against K&S for exercising their right to represent those who want to deprive others of their rights. If you’re going to snip and snipe, get it right, cooter.

Down in Albany

April 20th, 2011
2:57 pm

Typical Redneck: Yep, that’s basically what they are saying…typical liberal double standard.

JohnGalt4P

April 20th, 2011
2:58 pm

Is it just me, or are the the conservatives spending just as much time pressing social agendas as liberals? It’s appalling to me that so many people just plain don’t care that their government tells them how to live – and this isn’t limited only to marriage, it’s in almost every aspect of our lives. The only thing the House Republicans have done with this is to undermine every bit of their bitching and moaning over the last two weeks about the budget deficit – CLEARLY ya can’t blame it all on the Democrats, especially not when you’re willing to just “assign” $500,000 of taxpayer money (and let’s not forget that, contrary to what some believe, gay people are actually people who pay real taxes) in defending a modern-day Jim Crowe law of blatant discrimination. Social policies – particularly those that are based on one religion in a nation that is comprised of basically every religion on Earth- have absolutely no place in our government. Keep your laws off of my life.

Mec

April 20th, 2011
2:58 pm

Basic constitutional point we all learned in elementary and high school: the president, as chief executive of the executive branch of the government, is charged with executing the laws. He doesn’t get to choose which ones to execute. He’s bound by the constitution to execute them all. Until the law is repealed, it should be enforced, whether we (or he) like it or not. Paul Clement has been hired to make that point.

Down in Albany

April 20th, 2011
2:58 pm

Kev: Kinda like President Obama’s “laser-like focus on jobs…”, huh?

DannyX

April 20th, 2011
3:00 pm

““jobs, jobs, jobs”?”

Great question! Seems the Republicans have been side-tracked by their usual craziness,

Kill PBS
Kill Planned Parenthood
Kill new DADT law
Protect DOMA
Kill NPR
Kill Medicare
Kill Medicaid
More tax cuts

And of course the the very important non-issue Birthermania!

JohnGalt4P

April 20th, 2011
3:02 pm

@TypicalRedneck and Down in Albany: The true double standard, and what the gays are troubled by, is the fact that K&S touts itself as a gay-friendly (recruiting?), diverse and supporting firm, yet they would take on the defense of DOMA. Isn’t it interesting that the news feed on their homepage has no mention of the deal? One would think that a $500k contract would be cause for boasting…unless, of course, one feels guilty.

GA Red

April 20th, 2011
3:05 pm

Ga Blue, is it really correct that someone who wants to defend DOMA (it is law, after all) is depriving ‘others’ of their ‘rights’? The definition of ‘marriage’, according to the fed government, is ‘between a man and a woman’. This is not a ‘right’, it is a definition. So while I like your rip on cooter, you are a bit wrong in your assertion that homosexuals have ‘rights’ as it pertains to this case.

Typical Redneck

April 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

GaBlue, based on your response, I did have it right. Cooter is pretty fun though libtard.

Typical Redneck

April 20th, 2011
3:10 pm

and gay marriage is not a right!

Lexi

April 20th, 2011
3:15 pm

Unscientific push polls foisted on the chattering classes prove only the gullibility of the dolts who want to believe the supposed results.

The “Supremacy Clause” of the U.S. constitution makes it possible for the whims of one gay friendly legislature to trump the will of the people of the other 49 states–some federalism.

DannyX

April 20th, 2011
3:16 pm

“He doesn’t get to choose which ones to execute.”

According to Chief Justice John Roberts he does!

DannyX

April 20th, 2011
3:22 pm

“Unscientific push polls foisted on the chattering classes prove only the gullibility of the dolts who want to believe the supposed results.”

Lol. You have nothing.

rob

April 20th, 2011
3:30 pm

Hey, “UGA graduate”. First of all, you don’t seem to understand that every plaintiff or defendant is entitled to legal representation, no matter the issue, and second, you spell the word “asinine”, not “assine”.

King

April 20th, 2011
3:36 pm

Hey Spalding, better run out and hire some minorities so everyone will be happy with us. What? No, it doesn’t matter that we have already hired the best and brightest – it’s diversity that counts.

Blackneck

April 20th, 2011
3:38 pm

Gays people have on place in this world! LMAO! Rights! You have the right to be disrespected!

JesusFreak

April 20th, 2011
3:39 pm

Fact is, most people DO oppose sham marriages which is what gay unions are. The very definition of the word marriage is that the two complement each other, as in man and woman or the phrase a “marriage” of flavors. Gays by very definition don’t complement, they are the exact same thing, hence, no marriage! Two of one kind together isn’t a marriage, it is an abomination of nature. The end of the species, and the end of humankind as reproduction comes to a standstill. You can’t argue with facts! Do all the perverted things you want, just don’t impose them upon society. You can skew all those polls, anyone who is a statistician knows that all too well. Let’s not let John Q Public believe that he is in the minority because “all” the polls show favor for such atrocities, the fact is it is weird and most are not in favor. Try explaining that weird situation to your child, uh – husband and husband? wife and wife? Too strange to even try it. Not normal is a better explanation, and pretending to be normal is what they are trying to do. Sorry, just telling it like it is. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Not bashing an individual, just their demeaning lifestyle.

Biff

April 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

So sick of perverts! Back in the closet. There’s not a dimes difference in most homo-sexuals and child molestors.

ATLDawg, ya dig?

April 20th, 2011
3:41 pm

Lawyers are hired to advance their clients cases. Conservatives were wrong to blast law firms who defended guantanamo detainees. Same here. Clement teaches seperation of powers at Georgetown law. Seems a perfect hire to argue a profoundly consequential seperation of powers issue….which is what this case is about. The holding in this case will effect executive-congressional relations for generations.

The budget arguments are bologne. City of Atlanta would spend $500,000 litigating the color of a stop sign. Let alone the federal government. $500,000 is a fraction of a fraction of a drop in the bucket. And for a holding that can bolster the power of Congress for the next 50 years….hmm, seems a pretty good investment.

GaBlue

April 20th, 2011
3:47 pm

Y’all are right. Gay marriage is not yet a “right.” However, “equal protection under the law” is something we should all expect to be our “right” as Americans. So, when the law recognizes Steve & Betty’s 9-yr-2-kid marriage that ends with the lining of lawyer pockets and split custody, the law should also recognize Liz & Deb’s decision to do the same. It’s Liz & Deb’s (and Matt & Brendan’s) right to expect the same from their gubmit as Steve & Betty. And until the gubmit does that, it’s everybody’s right to beetch, moan, & boycott until it does! Wooo-HOOO!

Christy

April 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

The biggest concern I have with this is the fact the Repubs are wasting 520$ an hour for this and I’m a conservative.

Kevin

April 20th, 2011
3:49 pm

So the country is broke, $12B in debt actually, but Republicans think it’s good to hire a lawyer at $520 an hour to defend a law about marriage – even though the Federal Gov’t has nothing to do with marriage. Marriage is a State issue — and don’t Republicans think the State’s should decide for themesleves. I guess the GOP is for big / expensive (at least $520/hour expensive) government.

G19

April 20th, 2011
3:53 pm

Why did you have to use UGA Graduate to post. Please use spell check or a UF Grad nom de plume.

songbird

April 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

JesusFreak – gays have always been around and the population keeps growing. The planet is actually becoming overpopulated. I don’t think the gays will cause the end of the species. Idiots with nuclear bombs will probably be the end of the species. Or we will destroy ourselves because we keep destroying our environment.

songbird

April 20th, 2011
3:55 pm

Biff – you are a moron. Most child molesters aren’t gay.

Ashley

April 20th, 2011
4:00 pm

I have always wonder why the ceremony of marriage is the only institution that can be perform in a church or at city hall. I personally don’t believe in marriage. We keep talking about the sacredness of marriage and all the grace that goes along with it, but why are there so many broken or publicity seeking marriages, not to mention reality show that exploit marriage for profit. A person getting married 3 or 4 times (sounds to me like its trial and error) if this is what marriage has been reduce to, I say if two human beings want to get marrying let them, because heterosexual aren’t doing a good job of it. If history serves me correctly marriage was more of a contract or arrangement(sic) to produce MALE heirs or gain allies , there wasn’t a lot of loving but there sure was alot of dealmaking with the woman being the pawn. In closing I really don’t see how two people of the same gender compromises anything a man and a woman might do, unless the two same-sex people actually love each other and truly want to spend eternity together.

Biff

April 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

songbird, how do you know? The thing that homos and child molestors have in common is that their wires are crossed. They are unnaturally sexually attracted to others who are not capable of natural reproduction. Say like a dude getting jiggy wid it with a prime breedable chick. Same could be said of freaks who commit bestiality. A dude has a serious problem if he wants another dude probing his nether regions.

Lexi

April 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

DannyX-I have a degree in statistics from an upper tier school. I’m quite comfortable that the polls cited prove the biases of those offering them to advocate, openly or not, for gay marriage and are not scientifically sound.

Curious that the loudest, shrillest advocates of “tolerance” tolerate only those who sing with the same voices as the advocates.

RGB

April 20th, 2011
4:04 pm

This is another Obama flip-flop. Candidate Obama supported marriage between one man and one woman. But President Obama failed to keep his word….again.

Like he did on closing Gitmo, “those illegal wars”, creating jobs, reducing the deficit, transparency in government, halting Iran’s nuclear program–somebody stop me.

I suppose Eric Holder would have defended the law, but heterosexuals must not be “his people”.

ATF

April 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

Unbelievable. We have too little money for medical care for the indigent and children, too little money for unemployment in an economy with 10% unemployment, too little money for indigent defense, mental health care, jails, education, roads, public safety – too little, but the Republicans will spend our money in a religious battle.

Denying government benefits to gay couples will not make more straight people marry or stay married. Gay rights will not reduce the number of people who cheat on their spouses. Gay marriage will not reduce spousal abuse or child abuse. It is a feel good for people who have no tolerance for those who are different.

Doug

April 20th, 2011
4:09 pm

I can’t believe Irony said Clement is the “best oral advocate in the country.” He ought to get an ad on Craig’s List, then.

songbird

April 20th, 2011
4:10 pm

Biff, the data doesn’t support your assertion. Pedophiles don’t only prey on boys.

Vocabulary

April 20th, 2011
4:10 pm

Okay folks, nobody said Obama wouldn’t be enforcing it anymore, just not defending it. SO… enforcement: v.tr. “To compel observance of or obedience to.” & defend: v.tr. “To make or keep safe from danger, attack, or harm.” Got it?