I have always been proud to be a lawyer, for one reason: even mediocre lawyers fight like hell for their clients. You may not have a friend in the world, but if you hire a lawyer you get his or her undivided loyalty. No matter what the rest of the world thinks of you, your lawyer is on your side. Period. And it is remarkable how often a lawyer's vigorous representation of a client who was despised, and whose position was thought hopeless, has carried the day. When a major law firm like King & Spalding puts politics above its duty of loyalty to its client, it is a sad day for our profession and for our country.Thus wrote John over at Powerline yesterday.
Remember John Adams, before he was the President, before the Declaration of Independence, represented eight British Soldiers involved in the 1770 Boston Massacre? Got six of them off and two charged with capital murder were found guilty of manslaughter.
Not quite the same thing, but we can say, as Americans, with some pride, that the former Solicitor General Paul Clements, who took the Republican controlled House of Representatives' case in defense of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA). Actually, his firm, King & Spalding, of which he was a partner, took the case and then dropped it. Yesterday the Chairman of King & Spalding, Mr Robert Hays, Jr, pulled the plug for his firm, announcing:
"In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate," Hays wrote. "Ultimately, I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created."They were facing a protest by Human Rights Campaign and Equality Georgia and there was a full page ad set to run in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I am betting they would never touch a defense of anyone publishing the Muhammad Cartoons of Jyllands-Posten.
Mr Clements resigned from his firm.
"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. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do... I recognized from the outset that this statute implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable course for me but to complete it."That is from Law Professor Ann Althouse at her eponymous blog, in which she quotes herself from a previous blog post:
I would like to see the Defense of Marriage Act go, and I encouraged the Obama administration to decline to defend it, but I don't think it's "indefensible," and in fact, it deserves to be defended, and the House Republicans did the right thing in hiring Clement. The country deserves a well-briefed, well-argued case presented to the Supreme Court. The other side is already represented by Theodore Olson, another former Solicitor General. I hope Olson wins, but not because he's the better lawyer. It is absolutely fitting that he be matched with a lawyer of equal stature, skill, and will to prevail.And Law Professor Glenn Reynolds is all over this subject, which is only right. It is the job of professors to teach and this is a "teachable moment".
Kudos to former Solicitor General Paul Clement. Win or lose, he is a standup guy.
Regards — Cliff