DOMA-Defending Attorney Paul Clement’s Firm is Proud of its Policies Against LGBT Discrimination


Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement, who is going to lead the House GOP's defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a partner at King & Spalding, a law firm which devotes an entire web page to its LGBT non-discrimination policies.

Clement House Speaker John Boehner's office has so far refused to share its engagement letter with Clement, an attorney who makes more than $5 million a year.

Boehner indicated earlier today in a letter to Nancy Pelosi that he would like taxpayers to foot the bill.

HRC adds:

“The firm of King & Spalding has brought a shameful stain on its reputation in arguing for discrimination against loving, married couples,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “No amount taxpayer money they rake in will mitigate this blemish on the King & Spalding name.”

Reports indicate that Clement’s hourly fees could top $1000, making his role in defending DOMA a pricy proposition.  In fact, it has been reported that Clement received a $5 million signing bonus at the firm, showing just how expensive this kind of representation is. Given that there are as many as nine lawsuits in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, the bill to taxpayers could reach the tens of millions of dollars.

“Now we know why Speaker Boehner signed on to the right-wing plan this morning to strip money from the Justice Department to defend DOMA.  The price tag for this elite representation is going to be staggering and he’s got to try and find the money somewhere,” said Solmonese.  “This move is a jobs plan solely for high-priced lawyers bent on defending discrimination.”

Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to Lead DOMA Defense; Boehner Wants DOJ Funds to Pay for It [tr]


  1. Greg says

    Time to see what King & Spalding’s corporate clients think about this. Do they want to underwrite this kind of law firm?

  2. Greg says

    . . . and which law schools will continue to host King & Spalding at on campus interviews and job fairs? Vanderbilt? Emory? Duke?

  3. Paul R says

    This seems like a lose-lose for the GOP and the law firm (and lawyer). I hope I’m right. Americans hate rich lawyers about as much as rich Wall Street workers.

  4. freddy says

    My company (in the media biz) uses K&S as outside counsel, and you can bet within minutes of this announcement an e-mail circulated internally about whether to pull all business from them.

  5. BMF says

    Ok, I’m not happy about the defense of DOMA but I think it’s kind of odd that people want to start holding an entire firm accountable for the decision to take on the House of Representatives as a client. I don’t know what process K&S uses to approve clients, but I doubt that every lawyer or partner at the firm “approved” this. And if we hold the entire firm “accountable” by pulling business, mean does all of the pro bono and other good work K&S does go out the window? If a lawyer at a firm represents a client on death row, should a company consider pulling business because of that?

    Lawyers represent unpopular clients all of the time. In most instances companies don’t necessarily know all of the other clients a firm may have. So if people want to pull business for this case, I think a similar litmus test should apply to all matters that a firm handles. Why limit it to this?

  6. Greg says

    BMF —
    K&S does not need the money. They are the closest thing in Atlanta to a white shoe firm, or they were. Lawyers do not have to take a case, and clearly this is not representation of an indigent client.

    I have an idea. If this is such a noble thing to do, King and Spaulding should do it pro bono.

    They are Bull Conner in pinstripes.

  7. Jason says

    It’s not odd at all that people want to hold the entire firm accountable. Most law firms operate as partnerships, so its very likely the decision to work on defending DOMA was not made by Clement alone, but had to be vetted and approved by the highest levels of K&S management.

    For public companies, shareholders do pay attention and do care about where business is going. Wouldn’t you think twice about investing in a company that was utilizing an antigay firm for its legal representation? This is distinct from representing an unpopular criminal defendant on a pro bobo basis — I’m sure John Boehner could have found lots of other firms to do this dirty work.

  8. Greg says

    Jason —

    It is not only likely but an absolutely certainty that this representation was approved by the highest levels at K&S.

    Don’t forget — this is the firm that Sam Nunn (golden) parachuted into after his valiant crusade against Clinton’s proposal to allow lesbians and gays to serve in the military.

    This firm is thoroughly anti-gay, even though they have one out “non-equity” partner that I know of. Too bad for him.

  9. Anastasia Beaverhausen says

    Don’t be surprised if they retort with the lawyer equivalent of “It’s not show friends, it’s show business.” And remember, their morality is measured on a more reptilian scale. I’m not defending them, I’m just sayin’….

  10. Randy says

    Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index Rating of 95 out of 100 (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

    It’s time for HRC to revoke these — certainly the 2011 one at minimum.

    All other factors aside, there should be certain actions that get an organization an immediate zero, and defending government discrimination in court is one of those.

  11. Rob says

    It’s quite something that they are devoting so many millions to this in the same week that they are working to gut social security and medicare in order to save money. Asking seniors to foot the bill, on top of the morality issues, is real chutzpah.

    Maybe this will finally galvanize us into support for Obama who has made politically costly moves to defend LGBT Americans time and again, who put one on the Supreme Freakin’ Court, and whose White House offices are full of gay people. The idea of LGBT folks voting Republican is getting harder and harder to swallow.

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  13. Go Galt. Please. says

    Hasn’t this sort of thing happened before? I find it hard to believe that no President has ever directed the Justice Department not to defend a law before now.
    And surely Congress had tried circumventing that Presidential Directive?
    If nothing else, someone with eagle eyes needs to watch the budget slime-fest and unusual requests for “ordinary operating” expenses for the House.
    Almost as an aside, isn’t it interesting that Obama dropped this dead fish, and Boehner has stepped in to carry it all the way to the trash can? Without Boehner, this law would stay on the books until a more motivated President takes up the cause. Bad laws don’t just go away, they have to be struck down.

  14. Jon says

    I think it’s wrong to attack a law firm based on the clients it represents. Every client deserves an attorney. Child molesters deserve attorneys, serial killers deserve attorneys, and homophobic members of Congress deserve attorneys. Lawyers who take unpopular clients should be commended, not judged — without them, our legal system could not function.

    We can judge the firm by the arguments they make and the way they conduct themselves in court, but not on the identity of their clients.

  15. Dave in Northridge says

    Based on how the pro-Prop 8 attorneys are doing in Perry v Schwarzenegger, I can only guess that King and Spalding think Mr. Clements must be close to retiring — because he’s not going to come off any better in the appeals courts than Charles Cooper has.

  16. wimsy says


    If by “deserve” you mean they did something laudable and thereby earned the right to a lawyer, you are wrong. If by “deserve” you mean they have a constitutional right to a lawyer, you are wrong. If by “deserve” you mean that the legal profession owes them a defense, you are wrong.

    Individuals charged with serious crimes are afforded lawyers at public expense to satisfy equal protection requirements. Those requirements do not extend to rich white men who wish to inflict their morality on society in a civil action using public funds.

  17. Greg says

    We can judge this firm by who they choose to represent. This is not s criminal defendant who cannot afford his or her defense. This is not an indigent client. This is not a noble cause.

    This is a law firm accepting taxpayer money — potentially millions — to defend discrimination.

    Disgusting. Every attorney at King & Spalding should carry this with them wherever they go in their careers.

  18. darbnyc says

    If this were a criminal case, in which K&S was representing an unpopular defendant, I would totally agree with you. Right to competent counsel is a fundamental and important aspect of our system of criminal law, which I wholeheartedly support. If this were a criminal case, I think the lawyer could represent a client (even if he had doubts about their innocence) with a clear conscience, because it furthers the greater good of a properly functioning system of criminal justice.

    But this isn’t a criminal case and there is no right to counsel here (either legally or morally). The decision here, on the part of the lawyer, is purely commercial (and possibly ideological). He, and this firm, have made a decision to take on a morally questionable case because they will profit from it financially (and possibly because they believe in the rightness of the law they are defending, though it’s hard to attribute that to the whole firm).

  19. kodiak says

    People voting against people’s rights, anti people bills being signed into law, the government by and for the people going against it’s people on some outdated principle. Thank you Bible, for standing
    behind people’s prejudice and proud ignorance.

  20. BMF says

    @Jason: As far as not using an “anti-gay” firm goes, does this case make the firm “anti-gay?” Wouldn’t you need to know about ALL of the cases the firm has handled before making a determination about whether the firm is anti-gay or not. Right now, you’ve got a single data point and you’re drawing a conclusion about the entire firm.

    @Greg: unless you’re a principal at K&S, I think it’s a bit much to say that it’s an absolute certainty that this representation was approved by the highest levels at K&S. I have no idea what the process was. I do know that different firms have different processes for approving clients. If the process was as neat as you say, you’d never have conflicts, etc. I’m not willing to label an entire firm, or more accurately the management of a firm as anti-gay, UNTIL I have more facts.

  21. peterparker says

    My family’s business uses King & Spalding, and I believe my father has used them for estate planning services. UGH!

  22. tinkerbell says

    I think it is time for us to boycott and contact the corporate client list of King and Spalding to let them know that we will not patronize them if they continue to support those that support DOMA and envision us as second-class citizens. I think Sony and some of their other clients would cringe to know that King/Spalding supports discrimination against many of their customer base.

  23. Austin Rozzell says

    it is being reported they have pulled out, and now do not want to be the GOP lawyers