King & Spalding withdraws from DOMA defense; attorney Paul Clement joins new firm

Paul Clement

King & Spalding, the law firm that agreed to defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of House Republican leaders, has withdrawn from the case. And the Washington-based partner who had signed on as lead counsel in the DOMA defense, Paul Clement, resigned from King & Spalding today.

The Atlanta-based law firm agreed to take the case for a fee of more than $500,000 to be paid by taxpayers. House Republican leaders took on the job of defending DOMA after President Barack Obama announced that the Justice Department would no longer do so.

In his resignation letter, Clement said he plans to continue as counsel in the case with another law firm, Bancroft PLLC. Clement is a former solicitor general and served in the George W. Bush administration. Bancroft was founded by a former Bush assistant attorney general.

Clement said in his resignation letter that he did not have strongly held views about DOMA but that “representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.”

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: House to spend $500K or more on DOMA defense; majority back gay marriage

Timothy O’Hare

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Dallas Morning News (paid subscription required) has an extensive recap in today’s edition of the controversy over a Gay Straight Alliance at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton. As we’ve reported, bigoted Farmers Branch Mayor Timothy O’Hare railed against the GSA on Twitter, but O’Hare has since removed those posts from his account and didn’t respond to The DMN’s request for comment. O’Hare wasn’t the only one who spoke out against the GSA, though: school board candidate Randy Schackmann reportedly issued a statement calling the GSA an “agenda-driven, politically motivated, lifestyle-focused” group and said its presence amounts to “an assault by school leadership” on residents. As we’ve noted, the GSA was allowed to form and has been meeting, but The DMN story does shed some light on the difficulties faced by students wanting to start GSAs in North Texas. It also ends with a priceless quote from the R.L. Turner GSA’s 18-year-old president, Arafel Bruce, who was asked by the newspaper whether the GSA has an agenda to promote homosexuality: “I’m sorry. I’m trying not to laugh,” she said.

2. Five hundred and twenty dollars per hour, and up to $500,000 total, unless the cap is raised by written agreement. That’s how much Speaker John Boehner and the House GOP will pay attorney Paul Clement and his firm, King & Spalding, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign is continuing its assault against King & Spalding — which, by the way, has an office in Houston but not Dallas — for taking the case.

3. Yet another poll has shown that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. A CNN poll released Tuesday found that 51 percent believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. However, the poll found that seven of 10 Republicans are opposed to same-sex marriage.

 

—  John Wright