WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans have hired Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act from legal challenges.
The action by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pits Clement -- a partner in the Atlanta firm King & Spalding, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush -- against his predecessor, Theodore Olsen, the Los Angeles Times reported. Olsen joined Democratic lawyer David Boies in a California case that led to a federal judge declaring the law unconstitutional.
The law, enacted in 1996, allows states to withhold recognition from same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions. Five U.S. states, the District of Columbia and a number of foreign countries now allow same-sex couples to marry.
The Obama administration has said it would not defend the law, although it will continue to enforce it until the challenges are settled.
"At last we have a legal eagle on this case who actually wants to win in court! Paul Clement is a genuinely distinguished lawyer, a former solicitor general of the United States, who we are confident will win this case," Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement. "Thanks to Speaker Boehner's actions, President Obama's attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to work."
“The firm of King & Spalding has brought a shameful stain on its reputation in arguing for discrimination against loving, married couples,” said The Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “No amount of taxpayer money they rake in will mitigate this blemish on the King & Spalding name.”
King & Spalding had most recently scored a 95 percent on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index – a measure of a company’s workplace policies and practices as they relate to their LGBT employees. On the firm’s own website they even promote their LGBT diversity initiatives.
HRC continued, "Reports indicate that Clement’s hourly fees could top $1000, making his role in defending DOMA a pricy proposition. In fact, it has been reported that Clement received a $5 million signing bonus at the firm, showing just how expensive this kind of representation is. Given that there are as many as nine lawsuits in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, the bill to taxpayers could reach the tens of millions of dollars."
“Now we know why Speaker Boehner signed on to the right-wing plan this morning to strip money from the Justice Department to defend DOMA. The price tag for this elite representation is going to be staggering and he’s got to try and find the money somewhere,” said Solmonese. “This move is a jobs plan solely for high-priced lawyers bent on defending discrimination.”
Last month, HRC sent a letter to the nation’s largest law firms urging them not to take up DOMA’s defense. Noting that the legal sector has the largest number of top-scoring companies in HRC’s corporate ratings, Solmonese wrote: “It is critical that your organization not undermine that laudable record by representing the House in its defense of this discriminatory and unconstitutional law, which denies loving gay and lesbian couples the fair and equal treatment that they deserve from their federal government.”
“In taking up DOMA’s defense, the firm is aiding and abetting an effort to score cheap political points on the backs of same-sex couples,” said Solmonese. “King & Spalding was not required to take up this defense and should be ashamed of associating themselves with an effort to deny rights to their fellow citizens.”