Firm that Dropped DOMA Case Losing Big Business

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

King & Spalding, the Atlanta-based law firm that abruptly dropped the U.S. House of Representative’s case to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only lost one of its most prominent lawyers over the decision, but the State of Virginia has just ended its partnership with the firm because of the “weakness” it displayed in caving into pressure by homosexual activists.

World Magazine is reporting that Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general for the state of Virginia, sent the firm a “biting” letter last week, citing their unprofessional behavior in dropping the DOMA case as the reason why he is terminating the firm’s appointment as special counsel to the attorney general.

“[I]t is crucial for us to be able to trust and rely on the fact that our outside counsel will not desert Virginia due to pressure by an outside group or groups,” he wrote. “Virginia seeks firms of commitment, courage, strength, and toughness, and unfortunately what the world has learned of King & Spalding is that your firm utterly lacks those qualities.” Cuccinelli went on to call the firm’s decision to drop the DOMA case an “obsequious act of weakness.” 

“For future reference, your firm is not welcome to reapply for special counsel status at any time as long as I am the attorney general of Virginia,” he concluded.

The attorney general had worked with the firm since 2009, contracting out legal work, but Cuccinelli said he could not leave cases, like one involving the University of Virginia Medical Center, “in the hands of a law firm of such weakness.”

This is not the only loss sustained by the firm for caving into gay activists who contacted King & Spalding clients, such as Coca Cola, and encouraged them to pressure the firm into dropping the case. As a result of their decision to do so, the firm also lost one of its most prominent partners, Paul Clement, former U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush. Clement resigned from King & Spalding and joined a smaller firm in Washington DC in order to continue to serve as counsel on the DOMA case.

The case landed in the lap of outside counsel earlier this year when the Obama Administration ordered its Justice Department to cease defending the law. Because Congress passed the law, it is the only entity that has standing in court to defend it. For this reason, the House convened a rare legal advisory group in March that contracted with King & Spalding to defend DOMA, a relationship that ended abruptly when gay activists from the Human Rights Campaign and Georgia Equality began to pressure the firm’s clients.

King & Spalding has not yet responded to Ken Cuccinelli’s letter.

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