Defense of DOMA Update: Gag Order on Law Firm Revealed as Pelosi Presses Boehner on Costs of Litigation

King & Spalding's agreement with the U.S. House of Representatives General Counsel Kerry Kircher on behalf of the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend DOMA in court, has a gag order, Metro Weekly reports:

John_boehner All of King & Spalding's employees – lawyers and non-lawyers – are barred from advocating for the Respect for Marriage Act – the bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – in the 112th Congress, according to the terms of the contract to defend DOMA that King & Spalding partner Paul Clement signed on the firm's behalf on April 14.

The gag order might be illegal, according to Jon Davidson at Lambda Legal.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continues to push Boehner on costs associated with the defense of DOMA, the Washington Blade reports:

In an April 20 letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Pelosi says questions remained unanswered about hiring Paul Clement, an attorney with King & Spalding, to help the House general counsel with defending DOMA in court because Democratic lawmakers weren’t informed of negotiations prior to the contract signing.

“Since Democratic members were excluded from all negotiations, I would appreciate your providing the following information concerning the contract’s transparency, cost, the discount and the restrictions placed upon King and Spalding’s vast lobbying practice,” Pelosi writes.


Among Pelosi’s inquiries is whether King & Spalding won the contract after a bidding process or if the selection of the firm was made as a sole source contract. The Democratic leader also asks how the $520 an hour rate for Clement was determined and the total possible sum of $500,000 for his work.

MetroWeekly's Chris Geidner also looks at the fantasy aspect of the $500,000 cap on the cost of the litigation.

In related news, Focus on the Family is thrilled with what Boehner is doing:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it just doesn’t get any better on a Monday than to hear that the House of Representatives has selected Paul Clement as its outside counsel to take on the defense of DOMA,” wrote Focus blogger Bruce Hausknecht on Monday. “Clement’s resume’ reads like a lawyer’s fantasy: Georgetown, Cambridge, Harvard Law, Scalia law clerk, Solicitor General of the United States, even acting Attorney General of the United States – for a day!”

DOMA Defense to Cost American Taxpayers $500K, Maybe More [tr]
House Files Motion to Intervene in DOMA Lawsuit [tr]
Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to Lead DOMA Defense [tr]
DOMA-Defending Attorney Paul Clement's Firm is Proud of its Pro-LGBT Policies [tr]


  1. says

    uhm, aren’t gag orders only issued by judges

    lawyers do not have the power to gag anyone, they can present a case to a judge and it is up to a judge to determine yay or nay

  2. Greg says

    This is lame, and a transparent ploy to keep the controversy surrounding King & Spalding to a minimum. Lets hope it backfires. One can only hope the lawsuit to get this gag order broken will keep the focus on these bigots in pinstripes.

  3. james says

    We need Ari Waldman to comment on this “gag order.” It’s reasonable to expect a law firm not to represent both sides in a case.

    However, since DOMA / REFOMA (can I copyright that acronym) is a public policy issue that might, just might have a personal impact on some K&S attorneys and employees, I have to ask: Did each and every one of King and Spalding’s attorneys and employees in each and every one of their offices around the world agree to be silenced on a public policy matter?

    Now that this provision has become public, I’m guessing some of them are going to be raising objections. Would a K&S employee who is legally married to a same-sex partner be required to work on the case?

  4. walter says

    a gag order another way the repuks like to run the government under the table. why won’t boner release figures on how the contract was awarded and how much it will cost? this sure doesn’t look like putting jobs and the economy first. the party of lincoln has morphed into the party of hitler.

  5. says

    Hopefully some key K&S attorneys, para-legals, and secretaries will quit or at least threaten to. But the legal world is in deep recession, and this little government bailout won’t be enough to change that.

  6. Go Galt. Please. says

    Erm, it’s not quite a gag order. Paragraphs 4 (f) & (g) stipulate that everyone at the firm “will not engage in lobbying or advocacy”.
    But 4(h) says the firm simply needs to “prevent partners and employees who are permitted to, and do in fact, engage in lobbying or advocacy … from influencing, or participating in any way in the Litigation.”
    Put another way, no billable hours on this case for anyone who talks.

  7. BobN says

    “Put another way, no billable hours on this case for anyone who talks.”

    And probably more to the point: no talking from anyone who works on the case. The last thing they want is a behind-the-scenes report on the dirty, dirty process that defending DOMA will be. I suspect payouts to fundies is among the top concerns.

  8. mcNnyc says

    Sorry here’s the money quote:

    The paragraph in question states that “partners and employees who do not perform services pursuant to this Agreement will not engage in lobbying or advocacy for or against any legislation … that would alter or amend in any way the Defense of Marriage Act and is pending before either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or any committee of either body during the term of the Agreement.”

    This is not just for those working on the case…how do the employees of the NY and SF office feel about their civil rights?

    I just sent an email to my congress member Jerry Nadler with the article and remember these are our tax dollars…and the contract is with our CONGRESS is this the type of contract our government should be party with?

    If you feel likewise i urge you to contact your representative.

  9. Go Galt. Please. says

    4(f) covers employees/partners engaged in the DOMA defense.
    4(g) covers employees/partners not engaged in the DOMA defense.
    4(h) covers employees/partners who are permitted to lobby/advocate. Like, Californians protected by political speech laws.

  10. al says

    well always the congress is wasting money unnecessary. when the republican want more money and rise their income it is ok tax everybody except them. when they need pass some crap it is ok, but when real stuff matter we have no money. the issue with the gay and straight it is old subject, republican claim defend their believes because god made the woman to be with the man. same as money they use what they need and twist it in their benefits. Last time god speak to the humans was in jesus baptism, after that never again. they call the gay sodomites and sinners, well none knows the real and all the reason that “god” has to destroy that town, nevertheless Jesus “SON OF GOD’ forgive a prostitute because of that an the respect of the bible congress should declare prostitution a holy profession. also god said to the man respect your wife and provide for here while she take care of your house an d children, Mr Boehner should come with a law that forgive the woman work outside of the home unless they prostitute themselves, they should give comfort to the man and remain in the house with the children. Boehner shut the hell up as your republican party and stop to ridicule yourselves. Bible is an old book and it should be taken as experience but not longer as Law, as you see all in the bible doesn’t apply to modern society. if you believe in something that you respect respect all not only that is convenient for you, also the bible talk about poverty and charity, you need to donate every single penny you have and live poor…. can you do that in love of the word of god? i guess not, so your word and love in god is Crap as yourself. And the people that read this open your EYES, and think for yourself, if you are not sure go and read but the most important be HONEST with yourself that when god with help you!

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