The hot potato of defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was tossed to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in February when President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the administration would no longer defend the indefensible. Now, the law firm of King and Spalding, hired by Boehner to take on the case, has dropped it. A wise move, but not the end of the case.
Ben Smith broke the news of the jaw-dropping statement that King and Spalding Chairman Robert D. Hays Jr. issued this morning.
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.
At the time of Obama’s DOMA decision, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, slammed the president for taking the action when “[m]illions of Americans are still out of work and our economy is under considerable strain. . . .” And he chastised the administration for making “a political move at a time when the American people need leaders in Washington working together to solve our great challenges,” which included focusing attention on “working with Republicans to cut spending and get our economy moving again. . . .”
With King and Spalding’s departure, my hope was that the Republican majority would follow Price’s stern advice. No such luck. Paul Clement, the lead lawyer on the case at King and Spalding, bolted for Bancroft PLLC, which will now handle the DOMA case.