House Republicans have wasted no time in hiring Paul D. Clement, a former Solicitor General of the United States, to lead their defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, prompting the House Democratic minority leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to ask how much he’s going to cost.
The hiring of Clement is the latest development in the political back-and-forth over the marriage act, which President Barack Obama opposed as a candidate but which his administration somewhat reluctantly defended, until Attorney General Eric Holder announced in February that the administration had decided it was no longer obligated to defend it.
On Monday, Pelosi’s successor, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, told Pelosi in a letter that he wanted to divert some money from the Department of Justice to the House (see our report), since in Boehner’s view the abandonment of the law by Obama’s DOJ had left the House no choice.
The exchange of letters between Boehner and Pelosi has been crisply courteous, but hardly warm. In her response Monday to Boehner, Pelosi alluded to the “injustice” of the act, which Democrats regard as anti-gay despite the statute’s title. Pelosi noted that Clement was apparently retained even before Monday’s exchange of missives, which are posted in a report on The Blog of Legal Times.
Pelosi asked Boehner to disclose the cost of hiring outside legal help for the dozen cases in which the Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged. She also expressed dismay that Democrats had not been notified of Clement’s hiring until after it was a fait accompli.
In a signal that Clement is already well up to speed on marriage act cases, he filed the paperwork in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday to intervene in the case, on behalf of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House which, despite its title, has been decidedly partisan as far as the marriage act is concerned, with the three Republicans on the group voting to defend the act and the two Democrats opposing that position.
Clement, 44, a brainy favorite of conservatives, was Solicitor General from June 2005 to June 2008, under President George W. Bush. He is a partner in the Washington office of King & Spalding and head’s the firm’s national appellate practice. He was thought to be a possibility for the Supreme Court if Sen. John McCain had won the 2008 presidential election.