House Republicans' high-priced DOMA defenders bow out

Mon. April 25, 2011 3:40 PM by News Staff

paul clement

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Washington, D.C. - The high-priced law firm hired King & Spalding broke with one of its partners, Paul Clement, on Monday over his work defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

The contract with the firm and Clement, the former solicitor general during George W. Bush's presidency, was made by House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans after President Obama instructed the Justice Department in February not to defend the law he called unconstitutional.

"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," Clement wrote in his letter of resignation. "Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do."

Clement stands to make 500,000 in taxpayer dollars defending the anti-gay marriage law put in place under the Clinton administration.

The Human Rights Campaign had planned a Tuesday news conference one block form the firm's Atlanta offices.

A petition started by the grassroots organizing group CREDO Action objecting to House Republicans hiring Clement has received more than 37,000 signatures.

"Speaker Boehner, stop using taxpayer money to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act," reads the petition. "If you want to spend $500,000 to hire high-priced lawyers to stand on the wrong side of history, you should do so on your own dime."

The Los Angeles Times has called DOMA "wrongheaded," but encouraged gay rights groups to refrain from attacking lawyers hired to defend it. 

"The tradition of lawyers defending unpopular or controversial clients is an honorable one," the newspaper said.