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Tag Archives: Paul Clement

No plumbers needed at the Supreme Court

The eyes of the nation seem to be on the U.S. Supreme Court as the anticipation over the upcoming decision in the health care challenge reaches a fever pitch.

But something is strange to people who don’t follow the Supreme Court on a regular basis: although the justices and those who work for them know – and have likely known for months – how the Court has ruled in the matter, no one has said a peep.  No need for a plumber – the Supremes don’t leak.

“Everybody, from the ordinary citizen to reporters who are not used to covering the Court, are getting and education about how the Court works,” said veteran Supreme Court litigator Paul Clement yesterday at a media briefing hosted by the National Chamber Litigation Center in Washington.

Given the potential impact of the case on this year’s election, Clement said, “in addition to the Supreme Court press corps, you also have more political reporters who are covering this case. And the thing that I’ve found most amusing is their complete inability to believe that there will not be leaks. They are just so used to covering the other two branches of government that they just assume that leaks are absolutely inevitable and that there is no way in the world you could have a decision this monumental, and have that many people know about it, and have at least presumably half of the people have some beef about what is about to happen, and nobody’s talking about it.”

But at a time when the Court’s popularity numbers are falling, the fact that the Court is setting itself apart in this way is a good thing, Clement concluded.

“I think this is a good thing for the Court,” Clement said. “[M]aybe in the long run … people will have an appreciation that this really is a different branch of government.”

For more Supreme Court news, including a breakdown of all this week’s decisions, see our Supreme Court Report.

Lawmaker blasts House’s hefty DOMA legal defense tab

Most BigLaw clients would not be surprised by a $1.5 million legal tab. But when that tab is incurred by the House’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act – and is thus charged to taxpayers – people take notice.

Rep. Honda

As did Rep. Mike Honda, who called the legal bill a “irresponsible, backdoor use of taxpayer money” according to U.S. News and World Report (HT: WSJ’s Law Blog). The California Democrat is calling for a hearing on the issue after House Republicans agreed to increase the pay cap for Bancroft partner Paul Clement’s work on the case.

As a quick recap, after the Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would no longer defend the law, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House would send its own counsel to defend the law in federal court.

Clement

And not just any counsel. House GOP lawmakers tapped former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement – at the time a partner at King & Spalding – to defend the constitutionality of the law.

But then King & Spalding pulled out, causing Clement to abruptly resign the firm in protest and continue the defense of the law with Bancroft.

Now, U.S. News reports, the firm’s legal fees were initially capped at $500,000, but that amount was increased to $750,000. But that “cap may be raised from time to time up to, but not exceeding $1.5 million, upon written notice of the General Counsel to the Contractor.”

That does not make Honda happy. “How long are we going to let this Republican political exercise go on, and at what cost to the American tax payers?” he told U.S. News.

But Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, defended House Republicans’ actions, saying they are defending the law is because “the Justice Department chose to shirk its constitutional duty to do so.”

Legal shakeup over House GOP’s DOMA defense (access required)

Clement

After the law firm King & Spalding decided to withdraw from representing House Republicans’ defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, lead attorney and former Solicitor General Paul Clement resigned from the firm in protest – and quickly vowed to continue the defense of the law with the boutique firm Bancroft PLLC.

The move came in a shocking turn of events this morning, which started with the announcement from King & Spalding that it would seek to withdraw as counsel in charge of defending the law, which denies federal benefits to gay married couples.  The firm’s chairman, Robert Hays Jr., said the decision was due to the firm’s “inadequate” vetting of its involvement in the litigation, according to the National Law Journal‘s BLT blog. Gay rights groups have recently criticized the firm for taking up the defense of the law after the Obama administration announced earlier this year that it would no long defend the statute against challenges in federal court.

Clement protested by resigning from the firm, which he joined back in 2008 after leaving the solicitor general’s office. In his letter of resignation, posted by the blog How Appealing, Clement said he decided to leave the firm immediately “not because of strongly held views about this statute.”

“Instead, I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters,” Clement wrote. “Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do. The adversary system of justice depends on it, especially in cases where the passions run high.”

Soon after, Bankroft released a statement announcing Clement as the firm’s newest partner. The announcement, which touts Clement’s background as a veteran Supreme Court advocate, mentions neither his work at King & Spalding nor his representation in the DOMA case.

House Republicans begin DOMA defense, seek cost reimbursement from DOJ (access required)

Clement

Clement

After hiring former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, House Republicans officially entered the ongoing legal battle yesterday with a motion to intervene in a New York-based challenge to the law.

As you may recall, in February Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would no longer defend the law in federal court, spurring House Speaker John Boehner to announce that the House would defend the law. Since no Democratic members of the House have joined the effort, it is more accurate to say House Republicans are defending the law, points out SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group convened by Boehner voted to allow the House to move forward with the law’s legal defense.

Boehner

Boehner

In addition to yesterday’s legal filing, Boehner also sent a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informing her of his intent to seek reimbursement from the Department of Justice for the costs of defending the law.

“Obviously, DOJ’s decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA,” the letter states.  “It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA.”

Boehner said he has “directed House Counsel and House Administration Committee to assure that sufficient resources and associated expertise, including outside counsel, are available for appropriately defending the federal statute that the Attorney General refuses to defend.”