DOMA Attorney Forced to Resign from Firm

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement hired to defend DOMA
Paul Clement

WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2011-- On April 17, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement was hired to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Within the week, Clement had been forced to resign from his law firm. This is just the latest example of the heavy-handed tactics of gay rights' groups in their effort to redefine marriage and stifle any dissent. 

Clement, respected as one of the best Supreme Court advocates in the country, was involved in the vigorous defense of DOMA when he served as Solicitor General in the Bush Administration. He was hired by the House after President Obama announced in February that the Administration would no longer defend DOMA.

Shortly after he was hired, Clement’s former firm, King & Spalding, responding to pressure, started proceedings to withdraw from the case. This forced Clement to resign in order to honor his commitment to defend DOMA, referring to his “firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because a client’s legal position is unpopular in certain quarters.” His resignation was announced this morning. He indicated he has now joined the Washington law firm Bancroft PLLC.

Gloating over the decision of King & Spalding to withdraw from defending marriage, a Lamda Legal spokesperson said, “Today, we learned once again that it is a bad idea to defend antigay bias and discrimination in court, and fewer and fewer people are willing to do it,” as reported by the LA Times.

The Obama Administration has been moving closer and closer to advocating that marriage be redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, despite the fact that President Obama committed support for marriage between a man and a woman in his presidential campaign. The defense of DOMA by the Obama Justice Department had not only been lack-luster, it in some cases served to undermine the defense by including policy statements in their briefs that conflicted with Congressional objectives in passing DOMA. One of the most outrageous claims was a contention that there is no government interest in a “legal structure that promotes the raising of children by both of their biological parents.” That is what marriage is.

The developments with Clement and his former law firm are a reminder of how difficult the defense of DOMA will be because of the political power being wielded by those who are working to redefine marriage. It is important to remember that when the defense of DOMA moved to the House, it moved to a political body of 435 representatives, all of whom are subject to pressure from constituents and interest groups. The House's commitment can change because of pressure on individual members or through the outcome of future elections. Therefore, we will be watching political developments regarding the defense of DOMA carefully and will keep you posted of action required to support this effort.

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