In a remarkable development, the state of Virginia has fired the law firm of King & Spalding, which has been widely condemned for its abandonment of the House of Representatives in the Defense of Marriage Act case.

The entire termination letter can be read here. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says the firm’s representation of Guantanamo detainees is not objectionable “because we understand the value of legal counsel, even for those who hate this country and desire to do America and Americans harm.” But firing the House because its case has become unpopular in some quarters, the attorney general says, is too much and doesn’t demonstrate the “kinds of minimum standards” the state would expect. In particular, Cuccinelli says he doesn’t want to expose his state to the potential that the firm might dump it, as it did in “an obsequious act of weakness” when it fired the House.

Cuccinelli is an ambitious and rock-ribbed Republican. But his decision, allowing for an element of grandstanding (DOMA supporters no doubt will take this as a sign of his pro-traditional-marriage credentials), is unassailable. What other clients will be unwilling to risk being dumped mid-case by King & Spalding?