King & Spalding announced on Monday that it was withdrawing as the attorneys representing the House of Representatives in defending the Defense of Marriage.
The announcement prompted Paul D. Clement, the attorney working for the House, to resign and say he would continue to represent the House.
The firm was under pressure from progressive and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual groups.
In a statement announcing the withdrawal, Chairman Paul D. Hays Jr. said the firm had not totally reviewed its representation before taking on the assignment, but gave no additional reason for withdrawing.. “In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate,” he said. “Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week announced that Clement, a firm partner and former Solicitor General in the George W. Bush administration, would represent the House in the challenge, since the Justice Department decided not to defend the law. Boehner also said he believed the DOJ should pay the cost of representing the House. The contract with the firm called for Clement and other attorneys to be paid $520 an hour, up to a maximum of $500,000.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) challenged the decision, questioning the ethics and transparency surrounding it.
In addition, many groups have protested the decision. The Huffington Post reported that a grass roots organizing group, CREDO Action, was circulating a protest petition and had targeted firm employees with ads on Facebook. In addition, Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, said last week that the decision would hurt the firm’s recruitment efforts.