House Speaker John Boehner is looking
for a new law firm to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA) after the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding on Monday
announced it was withdrawing from the case.
Chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr. announced
the reversal on Monday, POLITICO.com's
Ben Smith reported.
“Today the firm filed a motion to
withdraw from its engagement to represent the Bipartisan Legal
Advisory Group of the House of Representatives on the constitutional
issues regarding Section III of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act,”
Hayes said in a statement through a spokesman, Les Zuke. “Last
week we worked diligently through the process required for
“In reviewing this assignment
further, I determined that the process used for vetting this
engagement was inadequate. Ultimately I am responsible for any
mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have
The announcement is a victory for gay
rights groups which had criticized the firm for taking the case. The
Rights Campaign (HRC) was expected to announce a campaign against
King & Spalding's defense of the law that bans federal
recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian couples at a Tuesday
press event in Atlanta.
Boehner appointed and led a committee
that instructed House counsel to defend the law in court after the
Obama administration announced it would no longer do so. The
president has said he believes parts of the law are unconstitutional.
Opponents of gay marriage had cheered
the news that Paul Clement, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office
of the firm, would lead the case.
“At last we have a legal eagle on
this case who actually wants to win in court!” Brian Brown,
president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), said in a
statement. “Paul Clement is a genuinely distinguished lawyer, a
former solicitor general of the United States, who we are confident
will win this case. Thanks to Speaker Boehner's actions, President
Obama's attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to