Roundup: All Sides Defending Paul Clement's Courage


Does Marriage Have a Right to A Lawyer?

Here is a summary of recent public reaction to the campaign to force law firms to drop the defense of marriage, from all shades of the political spectrum.

Gay Voices:

  • Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic: "When civil rights groups bully, they lose the moral high-ground. When you have men like David Brock leading the charge - and there are no means he has ever eschewed to achieve his ends - the danger is that we prove the far right's point."
  • Jonathan Rauch on the Independent Gay Forum: "[King & Spalding dropping the defense] did show gays have some muscle. It didn’t show we’re smart about using it."

Liberal & Mainstream Media:

  • William Jacobson at Cornell Law School on the Legal Insurrection blog: "When attorneys put business convenience ahead of the attorney's duty of loyalty to a client, there is no good outcome."
  • Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic: "The Human Rights Campaign's misguided case against Paul Clement's law firm ignores the basic tenets behind the counsel of law."
  • Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “Strong-arming the lawyer to drop or avoid the unpopular client is not an acceptable tactic. This is not, or shouldn’t be, a left-right debate.”
  • The editors of the New York Sun: “The principle of sticking by an unpopular client is as old as our republic”
  • Jonathan Capeheart, a Washington Post columnist: "Paul Clement’s decision to bolt for Bancroft PLLC was the right one."
  • Margaret Talbot at the New Yorker: "[HRC's tactics carries a] whiff of McCarthyite groupthink."
  • Attorney General Eric Holder in AP: "Holder told reporters Tuesday that Clement is "doing that which lawyers do" to take on the responsibility of representing the lawmakers who wrote the ban."
  • LATimes editorial staff: " beggars belief that it dropped this hot potato because of that provision rather than because of the efforts of Human Rights Campaign, the gay-rights organization, to 'shame' the firm."
  • Ted Olson to the LATimes: "I don't know of anything comparable to this. You have to be willing to stand your ground."
  • Steve Sanders at the U. of Chicago Law School blog: "Those who would label lawyers like Clement as (at best) amoral mercenaries do not understand how the world of public-law appellate litigation works."
  • The Wall Street Journal's Review and Outlook blog: "...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."
  • Steve Gillers of NYU to NPR/NYTimes: "[Kate & Spalding's] timidity here will hurt weak clients, poor clients and despised clients."
  • Former Solicitor General (under President Clinton) Seth Waxman: "Paul is entirely correct that our adversary system depends on vigorous advocates being willing to take on even very unpopular positions."

Conservative Media:

  • National Rifle Association press release: "...we expect [King & Spalding] to zealously advocate for our interests and not abandon the representation due to pressure from those who may disagree with us."
  • Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic Online: "The effort to force Paul Clement to withdraw from legal representation in defense of Marriage is one more manifestation of the growth of bullying in our culture."
  • Matthew Franck in the Public Discourse: “Resistance to … intimidation, in the name of the ethic of institutional integrity, is fast becoming the duty of all persons in positions of institutional responsibility, whatever their private views on homosexuality or same-sex marriage.”
  • Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council: “The people who avoid a debate are the ones afraid of losing. That's why the groups like GetEQUAL and others are forming what is basically a mobile protest unit.”
  • Brian Wilson at the Red State blog: "Who deserves legal representation - the American people, or their sworn enemies? To the Atlanta, Georgia law firm of King & Spalding, the answer most emphatically is only the latter."
  • William C. Duncan at NRO's The Corner: "This tantrum and its seeming success tell us that many on the left believe they have a veto on the principle that everybody deserves to be represented in court."
  • Chairmain Dan Lungren (R-CA): I admire [Paul Clement's] unwavering commitment to his clients and his dedication to uphold the law – qualities that appear to be inconsequential at King and Spalding where politics and profit now appear to come first.