Back in 2011, legal superstar Paul Clement abruptly left international firm King & Spalding after it caved to political pressure and stopped defending the anti-gay defence of Marriage Act.Clement, a former solicitor general under George W. Bush, defected to the 15-lawyer firm Bancroft PLLC, which Susan Beck recently profiled in The American Lawyer.
While it’s small, Bancroft is led by the conservative legal scholar and former Bush DOJ lawyer Viet D. Dinh, which might have helped attract Clement.
In any event, Clement brought the DOMA case with him to Bancroft, which Beck says has now become the “conservatives’ law firm of choice for hot-button cases.”
To be sure, Bancroft has taken on the most contentious issues of the year from gay marriage to immigration to voter ID laws. But the results for Bancroft’s conservative clients have been mixed, and in some cases, not great.
Clement represented conservative lawmakers who wanted to keep DOMA, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law. Gays filed more than a dozen challenges to DOMA, and Clement lost all but one, according to Beck.
Clement also led the fight against Obamacare, and we all know how that turned out.
Other results have been slightly better. Clement represented South Carolina in its quest to get a court to approve its voter ID law (liberals say such laws discourage minority voters). A court found the law was constitutional but couldn’t be implemented in time for the 2012 election, Beck wrote.
Clement also managed to get the Supreme Court to uphold the controversial “papers please” section of Arizona’s immigration law.
But the firm’s next task – defending DOMA before the nation’s highest court – could be an uphill battle since swing voter Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts could be likely to vote against the law.