Defend mass murderers but not DOMA?

It struck me as the news broke yesterday about Paul Clement of the law firm of King and Spalding withdrawing from assisting the House of Representatives in its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act that lawyers will line up to defend a mass murderer but give into political correctness on the issue of marriage.

In fact, defending mass murderers is looked upon as a noble act by many in the legal community - giving representation to someone who couldn't afford it otherwise. But when it comes to a controversial issue like DOMA, their knees turn to jelly and they cave to the political winds.

John Hinderaker:

As Clement noted, defense of DOMA is "extremely unpopular in certain quarters." But lawyers represent unpopular clients and unpopular causes all the time. Many of America's most prominent law firms lined up to represent terrorists, including those associated with the September 11 attacks, in various legal proceedings. On the left, it is apparently fine to advocate for mass murderers, but not for the House of Representatives or the traditional definition of marriage.
One striking aspect of this incident is that DOMA is not especially unpopular. It may well enjoy the support of most Americans, and, in any event, it is certainly a lot more popular than terrorism. But in elite circles--those that matter to the management of firms like King & Spalding--the radical gay lobby enjoys a special status.

That said, we will never know whether the law firm reversed course out of conviction or cowardice, because there is another difference between this case and the pro bono representation of terrorists: while some may disapprove of the latter representations, they are not crazed. They will not show up in the law firm's lobby, and they will not take out full-page newspaper ads. Angering ordinary citizens is safe; angering the extreme fringe of the gay lobby is not.

Jennifer Rubin states the case succinctly: "The left decides who gets lawyers." She cites chapter and verse on the left's support for lawyers who defend unsavory clients, as long as the issues involved are not dear to the hearts of liberals, like gay marriage.

John sums it up: "When a major law firm like King & Spalding puts politics above its duty of loyalty to its client, it is a sad day for our profession and for our country."

Thomas Lifson adds:

Glenn Reynolds, a law professor, points out what a huge misstep this is for K&S: "Just remember: King & Spalding is now responsible for the views of any client it chooses to represent, now that it's clear they're being vetted for political correctness."

I look foreward to the next criminal defense mounted by K&S. One would think a major law firm would think through such moves before taking them.
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