The good news is that King and Spaulding has apparently decided that defending the Defense of Marriage Act really isn’t a good move for the firm. The bad news is that John Boehner will still get to spend half a million dollars of your money to pay Paul Clement to fight off the Gay Menace.
The absurd news is Clement’s self-righteous claim that “defending unpopular clients is what we [lawyers] do.” (He didn’t add “at $540 an hour.”) Yes, every murderer has a right to a defense. But can you really call arguing in court for the right of bigots to make life miserable for gay people “defending unpopular clients”?
The notion that an individual under legal attack ought to have representation is a fundamental one. If Clement had agreed to defend someone accused of an anti-gay hate crime, the firm would be wrong to back out.
Footnote The firm’s withdrawal statement is pretty mealy-mouthed – “the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate” – so it’s hard to guess the motivation. I’d like to imagine a star rainmaker coming into the chairman’s office, closing the door, and saying, “Bob, I generally try to keep my personal life out of the office, but …”