WSJ: "Knave and Spalding"


From The Wall Street Journal's Review and Outlook blog:

Is it now so politically incorrect to oppose gay marriage that a white shoe law firm will throw over a client rather than defend a law signed by President Bill Clinton? Apparently so, after yesterday's show of invertebrate representation by King and Spalding, the giant Atlanta-based law firm.

...The likely story here is that King and Spalding began to fear a political backlash after activists at the Human Rights Campaign launched a campaign to "educate" (read: intimidate) the firm's clients about "King and Spalding's decision to promote discrimination." Clients include Coca-Cola and other Fortune 500 giants that prefer to avoid hot-button social issues.

That's fair enough, but once a firm takes on a client it is the firmest of legal obligations to see a case through save for a clear conflict of interest. To drop a case under political pressure is especially unethical. Imagine the outcry if a firm of similar standing stopped defending Guantanamo detainees?

Whatever one thinks of Doma, it passed both houses of Congress with huge majorities, and Vice President Joe Biden was among 85 Senators who voted "aye." The law defines marriage as between a man and a woman and says states aren't obliged to honor gay marriages recognized in other states.

Social mores have changed in 15 years, but not so much that gay marriage should be imposed by judicial fiat in a way that further inflames the culture war. The Human Rights Campaign has every right to challenge Doma in court, but it does itself no honor by trying to deny that same right to Doma's supporters by harassing their legal counsel. As for King and Spalding, better not turn your back on its lawyers in a firefight.


  1. Ken
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The fact that Bill Clinton signed DOMA is brought up over and over and over as if it somehow makes the law more valid, less discriminatory or makes the left hypocritical for opposing it. Yes, Clinton signed the law in 1996. He saw it as a compromise to head off a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (his own characterization of events). He's also stated that he regrets signing it. So the fact that Clinton doesn't even support DOMA makes invoking his name in every discussion about it that much more irrelevant.

  2. catholicdad
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Ken, you have never been more pathetic than in your weak-as-a-kitten missive above.

    Let's allow Bill Clinton's former Solicitor General to remind you of how ashamed you and everyone cheerleading for this grotesque perversion of our system of justice ought to be this morning:

    "I think it’s important for lawyers on the other side of the political divide from Paul, who’s a very fine lawyer, to reaffirm what Paul wrote [in his resignation letter from King & Spalding]. Paul is entirely correct that our adversary system depends on vigorous advocates being willing to take on even very unpopular positions. Having undertaken to defend DOMA, he’s acting in the highest professional and ethical traditions in continuing to represent a client to whom he had committed in this very charged matter."

    – Seth Waxman, former U.S. Solicitor General (under President Clinton) and current WilmerHale partner, commenting to Washingtonian magazine on the decision of fellow former S.G. Paul Clement to resign from King & Spalding and join Bancroft PLLC. At Bancroft, the D.C. boutique law firm founded by former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, Clement will continue to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives in its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). - Above the Law

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  3. Will Fisher
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    DOMA is also a monument to hypocrisy since it was signed by Bubba.

  4. ConservativeNY
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Clinton is a political prostitute, as are a lot of politicians who flip flop according to the wishes and the whims of the leftist elities who fund them.