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King & Spaulding Drop DOMA Case

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King & Spaulding, the legal firm that had agreed to take up the defense of DOMA in federal courts, has backed out of the deal with Congress.

“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,” King & Spalding chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr. said in a statement. “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,” he continued. “Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.”

Paul Clement, who would have led the defense for King & Spaulding, immediately resigned after the decision and joined another firm , Bancroft PLLC. Clement has vowed to carry on the case within the new firm. Clement’s letter of resignation contained the following explanation…

“Please accept my resignation from the firm effective immediately.

My resignation is, of course, prompted by the firm’s decision to withdraw as counsel for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives in defense of Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act. To be clear, I take this step not because of strong held views on the statute.

My thoughts about the merits of DOMA are as irrelevant as my views about the dozens of federal statutes that I defended as Solicitor General,” he wrote in the letter. “Instead, I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do.”

Courtesy The Huffington Post

The lead sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA — Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO) and John Conyers (D-MI) issued a statement on King & Spalding’s announcement:

King & Spalding’s withdrawal from their representation of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives is yet another blow to House Republican Leaders’ efforts to defend DOMA in court. Whatever the firm’s reasoning — whether they now agree with the President and Attorney General that the law is legally and factually indefensible or have decided that defending DOMA is unacceptable to many of their partners and employees — their withdrawal confirms what is increasingly obvious: it is patently wrong to defend this harmful law. Congress should pass the Respect for Marriage Act and repeal DOMA once and for all.

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