DOMA: Honor and the Limits of Politics

Chuck Donovan /

The desire to achieve victory in any field of endeavor can become so intense that it deforms the character of the participants. That tendency has been on display in the past two weeks as a result of the intimidation offensive the Human Rights Campaign has waged against the law firm of King and Spalding and its partner, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, over his agreement to represent the House of Representatives in federal cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Clement has acted with honor and consistency by putting legal ethics before any other consideration, including what can easily be inferred as his preference to remain at one of the nation’s venerable law firms.

Clement’s decision to resign rather than participate in King and Spalding’s abandonment of its client has drawn praise from across the political and legal spectrum, including from another former Solicitor General, Ted Olson. Olson is representing the plaintiffs suing to overturn Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment that preserved marriage in the Golden State as the union of a man and a woman. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and leading columnists have joined in the chorus as well. (more…)