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    King & Spalding Says Yes to Gitmo Detainees, No to Congress

    King & Spalding Says Yes to Gitmo Detainees, No to Congress

    Under pressure from groups opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act, the large Atlanta law firm King & Spalding is seeking to withdraw from representation.  In a transparently phony excuse, the head of the firm blames an improper “vetting” process, when everyone in the world knows that the reason King & Spalding is dropping the case is because of protests by groups opposed to DOMA.

    Attorney and former Solicitor General Paul Clement has resigned from the firm in protest:

    In a letter to King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays, Clement says he chose to resign not because he has strong personal views about DOMA. Rather, he writes, “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.”

    King & Spalding had faced protests and threats from pro-gay marriage groups in light of its decision to defend DOMA.

    “Efforts to delegitimize any representation for one side of a legal controversy are a profound threat to the rule of law,” Clement continues. “Much has been said about being on the wrong side of history. But being on the right or wrong side on the merits is a question for clients. When it comes to the lawyers, the surest way to be on the wrong side of history is to abandon a client in the face of hostile criticism.”

    In his resignation letter, Clement also takes a direct shot at Hays, the firm’s chairman, who earlier today said through a spokesman that “the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate” — that is, that King & Spalding had not sufficiently looked into the issue before taking the case. “I would never have undertaken this matter unless I believed I had the full backing of the firm,” Clement writes. “I recognized from the outset that this statute [DOMA] implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides.”

    “If there were problems with the firms’ vetting process,” Clement says, “we should fix the vetting process, not drop the representation.”

    Until recently, the defense of DOMA was being handled by the Justice Department, until an abrupt shift by the Obama adminstration, causing Congress to seek its own counsel.

    The attempt to deprive Congress of its counsel of choice based on the alleged unpopularity of DOMA (as Clement says, “in certain quarters”) stands in stark contrast to the position of the American legal community when it comes to representing detainees at Gitmo.

    King & Spalding has devoted substantial resources to representing, free of charge, several detainees.  King & Spalding highlights such representation on its website.

    I do not criticize King & Spalding for representing unpopular clients or causes.  Such representation is in the best tradition of the legal profession.

    I do find it odd, however, that King & Spalding has no problem defending the detainees at Gitmo while not being willing to represent the United States Congress.

    Update:  I probably should have dealt preemptively with the inevitable response, reflected in the very first comment, “Defending the prisoners at Gitmo has to do with due process and the bill of rights under the Constitution.”  There are very good and substantial arguments that DOMA is constitutional, regardless of how one feels about the substance of the law, and that was the position of the Obama administration until recently.  The issue is that King & Spalding certainly would have withstood pressure to drop the Gitmo detainees and the legal theories purused, but showed no such courage when it came to DOMA.  No one is saying that King & Spalding must be forced to represent any particular client, but it also is fair to point out the hypocrisy.

    The full resignation letter by Clements is here.

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    Oh and just because you didn't understand what I said doesn't mean I didn't address your issues.

    … he said, with pinky extended.

    Oh, and IP, one last thing

    This may come as a surprise to you but gender is not a protected right under the constitution

    You might like to pick up the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made SEX a protected class.

    (can we please stop substituting the word "gender" for sex)

    Apologies to Prof. Jacobson for my crankiness, but I'm on muscle relaxants for my back and am not suffering fools lightly at the moment.

    Anyone who supports gay marriage on a equal rights protection claim engages in fallacious logic. Homosexual men and women have the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex as I do. When a homosexual man can get pregnant and a lesbian woman can impregnate her partner, then you would have an argument.

    BTW, if anyone ever does prove that homosexuality is predetermined by DNA and they come out with a test for it, should it be legal for a couple to abort an unborn child because it will turn out gay?

    You'd think King & Spalding had agreed to represent global warming deniers — now that would be foolish because, as we are told, the science is quite settled. Clearly it would be a tragedy if the denier side was allowed to state their case with effective legal representation.
    On a related note, I was expecting a blistering criticism of King & Spalding from Prof. Jacobson. I can understand firms squirming over some clients, but K&S; is kicking the US House of Representatives to the curb. Is this THE FIRM that Tom Cruise used to work for?

    "The attempt to deprive Congress of its counsel of choice based on the alleged unpopularity of DOMA (as Clement says, "in certain quarters") stands in stark contrast to the position of the American legal community when it comes to representing detainees at Gitmo."

    You're seriously going to try to equate the DOMA to actual human beings? The latter have a bunch o rights to representation. They have a bunch of rights such as the 4th and 5th, right to a jury trial, and on. What rights does the DOMA have?

    Uh…. none. It's a piece of paper. Nor were King and Spalding representing "congress" seeing as how half of congress has absolutely no interest in defending DOMA at all.

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