Friday, May 13, 2011

WSJ: Lawyer signed contract to defend DOMA before firm vetted the case

This is the post I was going to publish Friday morning here. I posted on it Alternet instead because Blogger crashed.

One thing I despise about the religious right is how they swoop down on an issue in order to exploit it before all of the facts come in.

They act like a bunch of vultures with crosses stitched in their wings.

A perfect example of this is the recent controversy involving King & Spalding, the law firm which decided not to defend DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in the courts.

We have heard the constant whining from the religious right about how King & Spalding are cowards for refusing to take the case. We have heard junk from the religious right regarding the supposedly bullying tactics of the Human Rights Campaign in this controversy. However, the following is something we won't hear from the religious right.

According to The Wall Street Journal and The Fulton County Daily Reporter, the lawyer in the center of the controversy, Paul Clement, may have overstepped his bounds in taking the case. He allegedly signed the contract to defend the case before going through proper channels:
Clement has stated that he felt that he had the backing of the firm before he took on the DOMA case. But the Daily Report spoke to two firm lawyers and a third source anonymously who said that the DOMA matter was not fully submitted to King & Spalding's business review committee, a firm requirement, before Clement signed a contract obligating the firm. They said the committee immediately began reviewing the case the day after the firm learned of the contract—and rejected it the next day, according to the Daily Report.

The sources said the firm’s partners were taken by surprise when news broke that Clement had taken the case. “Any matter that is controversial in any way or where there is a discounted rate goes through the business review committee,” one of the sources told the Daily Report, noting that the DOMA engagement was both controversial and had a discounted rate.

The article also said that there was widespread opposition to the case from inside the law firm and that the case didn't fit the law firm's mission.

These facts something to keep in mind as the folks at the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, etc. will continue to put their own spin on this controversy.

My guess is that the organizations will conveniently ignore these new revelations. I wonder how many times NOM and the Family Research Council will mention this incident as an example of how "homosexuals are trying to silence people" instead of letting everyone of the real story.

After all, why let truth stand in the way of a good fundraising tool?

UPDATE - And now from the Huffington Post comes even more details about the GOP in this matter. Apparently no one knows where the House of Representatives is going to get the money to pay for the DOMA defense. And laws could have been broken because of it:

The House of Representatives has signed a contract to pay a law firm up to $500,000 (and possibly more) to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. But there's a problem with this arrangement: No one seems to know where that money is going to come from, and at least one lawmaker believes House Republicans may be violating federal law.

 . . .  Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) pressed House General Counsel Kerry Kircher on the matter. Although the contract states that "the General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all contractual services," Kircher said he was told by the House Republican leadership that no funds would come out of the Office of General Counsel's budget for this purpose.

 . . . Dan Strodel, the House's chief administrative officer, is the man who, according to Honda's office, would ultimately write the checks to Brancroft PLLC. But at the hearing, he also said he had no knowledge of where the money would come from.

 . . .Honda believes that Boehner's agreement could be violating the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits "involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose." Knowingly violating the law could lead to being fined or imprisoned

 Why doesn't the House of Representatives ask the National Organization for Marriage for the money? I'm sure than an organization which mysteriously goes from having  $500,000 to $10 million in a three-year span has money just laying around.

Hat tip to AmericablogGay for the update.

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