After a week of mounting criticism, the law firm retained to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives has announced it will withdraw from the case.
Paul Clement, the former solicitor general in the George W. Bush Administration, was named to lead the defense for King & Spalding. Via a spokesman, K&S Chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr. released this statement to Ben Smith at Politico:
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.
King & Spalding faced a major public relations backlash after it was reported they were being paid up to $500,000 to defend the discriminatory anti-gay 1996 law. More questions were raised after Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly reported that the contract placed a "gag" order on all firm employees relating to DOMA. Employees were prohibited from any advocating or lobbying to repeal DOMA.
Shortly after the announcement was made, the Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post reported that Paul Clement submitted his letter of resignation. "In his resignation letter, Clement stated that he is joining Bancroft PLLC, which is led by former Bush administration officials. Clement will continue to represent the House on the case while at Bancroft."
House Speaker John Boehner pushed for outside counsel to defend DOMA after the Obama Administration announced in February that it will no longer defend recent lawsuits challenging DOMA Section Three, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex couples and denies all federal benefits, such as Social Security and health care.