King & Spalding has withdrawn from representing the House of Representatives with regard to the Defense of Marriage Act. King & Spalding was hired after the Obama administration abruptly – and disingenuously — changed its legal position recently.
The attempts to intimidate, both politically and sometimes physically, supporters of traditional marriage are nothing new.
The strategy is to define the traditional marriage view as bigotry on par with racism. Once you accept that premise, then everything else follows and is justified. Even expressing a legal view that there is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage — a view expressed under oath by Elena Kagan — now constitutes hate speech.
There were numerous boycotts of businesses owned by people who supported Prop. 8 in California, including a boycott organized by an association of law professors.
Taking it one step further, there was a widespread campaign to demonize and boycott Mormon-owned businesses in the wake of Prop. 8 in California, documented in my post It’s Time To Speak Out Against The Mormon Boycott:
Supporters of gay marriage have reacted with anger at the passage of California Proposition 8, which amended the California state constitution to provide that only marriages that fit the traditional definition (one man, one woman) will be recognized. The resulting protest movement has devolved into anti-Mormon bigotry which has been met with silence by liberal civil rights groups. The anti-Mormon fervor has become so nasty, and is growing at such a pace, that it is time to speak out against the “Mormon boycott.”
The anti-Mormon fervor carried over into the legal sphere, as I documented in Anti-Mormonism Again In Gay Marriage Debate. That post regarded attacks on a Justice Department lawyer whose name appeared on a government brief defending DOMA:
(Note, Sullivan later deleted the tweet, but it lives on in the internet.)
Now the intimidation has moved beyond political supporters of Prop. 8 and Mormons, and into an attempt to deprive pro-traditional marriage groups of their counsel of choice. As Jennifer Rubin points out (via John Hinderaker), the attempt to intimidate lawyers into not representing pro-traditional marriage clients is part of a deliberate strategy, not a haphazard reaction.
For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion. I think this is a mistake, but time will tell.
I wondered what effect the King & Spalding withdrawal would have on lawyers and staff at King & Spalding who support — along with a majority of Americans and the current President of the United States (until his view “evolves” some more) — the traditional view that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Would such lawyers and staff now be afraid to express their views on the subject, fearing a backlash against their individual careers much as King & Spaulding feared a backlash? If representing the pro-traditional marriage view is unacceptable for the firm, would there be a hostile work environment for such people?
So I emailed King & Spalding Chair Robert D. Hays, who made the decision to drop the case, with a copy to King & Spalding’s director of communications, Les Zuke:
In light of the controversy regarding King & Spalding’s withdrawal of representation in the DOMA matter, and Mr. Clement’s resignation, I was hoping you could provide me with a statement as to whether, and to what extent, King & Spalding protects the rights of attorneys and staff who wish to express support for, or advocate for, the traditional definition of marriage. Additionally, are you concerned that the public withdrawal of representation in this case may contribute to a hostile work environment for supporters of traditional marriage at King & Spalding, and if so, what steps is King & Spalding taking in that regard.
I spoke with Mr. Zuke this morning, who indicated that he had not seen the email, so I paraphrased it for him. Mr. Zuke stated that he could “not discuss our internal operations” and declined to comment on the question, other than to forward the statement released yesterday by Hays announcing the firm’s withdrawal, plus this statement:
Les Zuke, a spokesperson for the firm, made the following statement with respect to Paul Clement’s subsequent resignation from the firm:
“We’re sorry to see Paul Clement leave. He’s been a good partner, and we wish him the best.”
If you were a lawyer or staff member at King & Spalding who supported the traditional view of marriage, would you feel you had a hostile work environment? Would you be willing to engage in the national debate — even outside of work — over gay marriage?
If there are any King & Spalding attorneys or staff who wish to enlighten me on the atmosphere, I’d love to hear from you confidentially.
Update: TPM has a story about the wide range of pressures placed not only on King & Spalding, but also on clients of King & Spalding to pressure the firm to drop the case. The strategy was to try to hold other clients of King & Spalding responsible for the firm’s representation of the House, so another client — say Coca Cola — would see protests over the fact that it was using King & Spalding.