National Rifle Association Cuts Ties with ‘King and Spalding’ Over Dropping of DOMA Case

Last Thursday I mentioned that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that the state was cutting its ties with law firm King & Spalding over the firm's decision to withdraw from the defense of DOMA.

Nra Now, the National Rifle Association has followed suit.

Said the NRA's letter to the firm, in part:

We are writing to notify you of our decision to terminate our legal services agreement with King & Spalding, effective immediately, due to the firm's decision to bow to political pressure and abandon a client in the midst of a legal representation. Specifically, our decision is motivated by your withdrawal as counsel for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives in defense of Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act.

We believe King & Spalding's decision is indefensible and raises serious concerns about its ability to be a reliable and effective advocate for any client facing potentially controversial litigation.

To be clear, our decision is not motivated by any position on the statute itself. As you know, the National Rifle Association is a single-issue organization dedicated to the protection of the Second Amendment. We are, however, often involved in controversial issues on which emotions can run high.

The Curious Case of Paul Clement [tr]
Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli Cuts State's Ties with King & Spalding for Obsequious Act of Weakness in DOMA Case [tr]


  1. Justin L Werner says

    Of course this is about a single issue. The NRA is packed solid with conservatives. Conservatives generally flat-out hate LGBT people – pretty damn transparently.

  2. Jonathan says

    I’m torn. On the one hand, the NRA is obviously populated by people who at the very least indelibly politically aligned with those who are pushing DOMA defense and are more likely themselves proponents of DOMA. Which makes this missive… suspect.

    On the other hand, they have a point. The NRA represents a minority opinion in the United States. They are vulnerable to the kind of public relations nightmare that a major law firm would weather in this situation, and certainly have the right to move their business elsewhere.

    Overall, there are two important points that undercut the NRA here. Paul Clement is the lawyer representing the US House on this, and he has not dropped the case. He was not fired. He moved to another law firm because of the second important point. He signed an understanding with a client that may have violated the law, legal ethics and firm policy. As long as the NRA isn’t going to enforce its agenda throughout the law firm, there was no reason to leave it as a client.

  3. Matt says

    Really? Are you implying the NRA is anti-gay? Because you’ll need more proof than this. King & Spalding backed out of a politically charged case, they’re afraid that King & Spalding will back out on them when they need representation. Makes sense.

    Say what you will about the NRA when it comes to issues of anti-violence and gun control, but I tend to believe them when they say they’re a single-issue group.

  4. ohplease says

    No, they don’t have a point. DOMA is not a client. The defense had not got underway. It wasn’t like this wasy dropped in mid-trial, it was dropped a couple of days after they accepted it. Law firms are not slaves — they can change their minds.

    Un-Constitutional laws that exist purely to discriminate against American citizens out of pure hatred do not deserve a defense.

    The NRA doesn’t want to be represented by a firm known to make a choice against evil. Can’t say I’m surprised. Fortunately for them, there are plenty of other firms that will happily represent them in their quest to destroy this country.


  5. says

    Now that’s the most two-faced, hypocritical piece of doggrel I’ve read in some time.

    @ Jonathan; this isn’t “suspect”…….it is politically manipulative, no more, no less.

  6. says

    nice try NRA

    U might be rich, but Coca-Cola is wealthy!!!! and Coca-Cola called the shots on this 1 to K&S…..pull out of DOMA issue

  7. chris says

    single issue my ass…the NRA pissed off the right wing that threatened to enact legislation against their interests…the GOP is desperate…..they are losing their grasp day by day.

  8. luminum says

    NRA would have a point if their cases also came with binding clauses forbidding their entire staff from advocating for or working toward pro-gun control policies. Most likely, they won’t…and laws are NOT defendants.

  9. Chuck says

    NRA is Orwellian to the end.

    They did this to signal to the Republican congress, that they control, that they will back them and the Tea Party since they always back the NRA. This is all about alliance building. The NRA is the most politically astute organization in America and to think this is not about politics is naivete at its worst. Like they said they have only one goal, to make sure the USA lets anybody who wants to have a lethal weapon.

  10. Adam says

    Hmm… Well, I hope K&S picks up new clients as a result of this. I wonder if the NRA would have reacted the same way if K&S had simply declined the DOMA case to begin with–based on their firms’ own values–rather than taking it and dropping it…

  11. AllBeefPatty says

    The National Rifle Association has NOTHING to do with rifles.

    Much like the GOP has NOTHING to do with the future of America.

    They have become the modern face of a hate group.

    Actions speak louder than words.

  12. Mike in the Tundra says

    Perhaps Boehner caused K&S to drop the case. He insisted on the employee gag order which is illegal in some of the states where K&S has offices.

  13. Grego says

    I’m sure it came as a shock to the NRA, hunkered in a state where until 1967, the State law held that “If any white person intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person intermarry with a white person, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years.”

  14. says

    Surprise surprise… people who want to lobby weapons for the masses also dont like gays. Tea Party duh. Who wants rifles? Obviously racists and bigots.

  15. TonyJ says

    The NRA is an evil organization that promotes values and laws that result in the deaths of thousands of US citizens every year.

    They are an embarrassment to Christians and gun owners. (and they happen to hate gay people, too.)

  16. says

    Stop talking about your right to own and carry a gun and start working harder to create a culture where people won’t feel a “need” to exercise that right!

  17. says

    What we need to do is get the lists of all of the NRA’s and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s retained law firms and check to see if any of them have ever dropped a case or a client. If so, then we ask the NRA and Virginia why they haven’t dropped those firms and expose the homophobia that motivates their current decisions.

  18. paul says

    the thing that irks me about this whole thing…is that President Obama is a legal scholar and he consulted with other legal scholars on this issue and made a decision not to defend the 3rd part of Doma…not all of DOMA, just the 3rd part of it. it has already been ruled unconstitutional by 2 federal judges. Can’t people call these biggots out on their stupidity?
    Plus, $200,000 of our money is being used…we have a freakin right to say NO!!

  19. RWG says

    After a week of this mishegas one thing is certain: cases defending anti-gay discrimination will be poison to mainline law firms. Henceforth, no reputable firm will take such a case, instead, they will show the bigot to the door.

  20. Alex E says

    The NRA is clearly signaling to their extreme right-wing allies that they’ll stand by them; I may not be well read in the specifics of this particular firm, but I do have some common sense. It’s clear that once K&S thoroughly evaluated the case, they came to the conclusion that it was indefensible. At which point, they decided to drop it.

    This, we can be certain, is something that the NRA leadership understands. This is something that should be clearly evident to anyone who’s ever seen workplace politics or even had siblings. This is not because of LGBT rights, this is not about DOMA, this is not about gun control.

    The NRA and the Republican party are longstanding allies. The NRA needs at least one party’s support. The Republicans need to rule through fear, at least on civil rights issues, for the time being.

    As for the second amendment… I’m for same-sex marriage, I’m for LGBT rights, and I’m for our second amendment rights WITHOUT RESTRICTION OR REGISTRATION. So the NRA? Kind of a necessary evil. Deal with it, unless you’ve forgotten why California wasn’t crawling with Japanese during WW2.

  21. Pointed says

    NRA=Gayh8rs….surprise, surprise! Gun lovers are 99 and 44/100ths repugs.

  22. RWG says

    @Alex E: “Deal with it, unless you’ve forgotten why California wasn’t crawling with Japanese during WW2.”

    What???? The Japanese never made it to California because 1) their army wasn’t large enough and was already spread too thinly across Asia and the Western Pacific, 2) their Navy lacked the ships, planes, equipment and resources to land in California and 3) they couldn’t even hold onto a couple of remote islands in the Aleutians, much less anyplace on mainland North America. That’s one long supply line! I’m all for responsible gun ownership (I own several myself) but your theory is whacky.

  23. Randy says

    “our decision is not motivated by any position on the statute itself”

    and I have a bridge to sell…

  24. Cruel World says

    @Little Kiwi, self-defense will always be necessary.
    Criminals have guns, even if it’s difficult or impossible to obtain a gun legally. That’s the thing about criminals– they have no regard for laws or the safety of others.
    Conversely, law-abiding people will not be able to obtain a gun if it’s illegal, putting criminals at an advantage against the common citizen.
    Few people will use guns to kill, so why create laws that will prevent everyone from having guns EXCEPT for those few people?

    Ask yourself, what would happen if every gay man carried a concealed weapon? Certainly, hate crimes would drop significantly. The fact is that hate crime laws and the police won’t protect you and don’t deter violence; only you can defend yourself.

    For those of you who say that 2nd Amendment advocates are all homophobic rednecks, consider libertarians and anarchists: they believe in minimal government interference in personal matters and advocate equality between gay and straight people. Look outside the political binary!

  25. jamal49 says

    Jonathan: The NRA represents a “minority opinion” just as AIPAC represents a “minority opinion”. The problem is that their influence far outweighs the actual number of people who support them.

  26. just_a_guy says

    Agreed, the NRA just announced that the NRA is NOT single issue.

    Their double-speak doesn’t add up: K&S had not really started to represent Boehner. And unduly dropping a client mid-course could approach an ethics violation. That’s kind of an outrageous claim to make against K&S: K&S has shown its ethics in spades by doing the right thing on a case they showed leadership in rejecting.

    Seems to me like NRA acts GUILTY about SOMETHING by dropping K&S this way. Makes me wonder if they tried to demand an outrageous gag clause like Boehner asked for. Or maybe it’s SOLELY political maneuvering. At the least, they’ve announced contentment to pander to anti-gay funders/influence.

    In any case, you’ve gained my suspicion, NRA. And I’m a middle of the road gun rights guy; I respect the sentiment of leaving people alone. But maybe I don’t KNOW everything you’ve been up to, NRA.

    Maybe the NRA deserves more of our scrutiny…

  27. just_a_guy says

    And the NRA seems to have announced that they only want 2nd-rate yes-men lawyers. SUSPECT.