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King & Spalding Withdraws DOMA Defense

April 25, 2011 2:23 pm ET by Equality Matters staff

King & Spalding, the firm hired by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), announced today that it is withdrawing its commitment to represent the discriminatory position of the Speaker of the House and the U.S. House of Representatives. According to Boehner, Paul Clement of King & Spalding would lead the case in court for a price of up to $500,000 in taxpayer funds - half a million dollars allocated to fight an increasingly unpopular law.  

King & Spalding chairman Robert D. Hays said in a statement:

"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."

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, the lead counsel and a partner at King & Spalding, subsequently resigned from the law firm and announced his intention to continue defending the discriminatory statute:

"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."

Equality Matters president Richard Socarides released a statement this morning commending King & Spalding's decision

"We commend the partners of King & Spalding for rightly recognizing that their participation in furthering discrimination against gay Americans was unacceptable. All Americans deserve access to an attorney, but attorneys need to be held accountable for the clients they voluntarily decide to represent. Furthermore, Speaker Boehner has an army of in-house legal talent at the House of Representatives who could ably represent his position in court. If he is serious about cutting the deficit he needs to look to his in-house counsel to represent him in these proceedings, instead of spending taxpayer dollars for a service already provided to his office."

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