King & Spalding Fired for “Obsequious Act of Weakness”

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The notoriously anti-LGBT Attorney General for the State of Virginia has fired King & Spalding in retaliation for its withdrawal from representing the U.S. House of Representatives in defending the constitutionality of the federal DOMA in court:

“King & Spalding’s willingness to drop a client, the U.S. House of Representatives, in connection with the lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was such an obsequious act of weakness that I feel compelled to end your legal association with Virginia so that there is no chance that one of my legal clients will be put in the embarrassing and difficult situation like the client you walked away from, the House of Representatives,” Cuccinelli said in a letter to Joseph Lynch in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

Cuccinelli does, however, make an interesting point:

Cuccinelli said he acted because “Virginia does not shy away from hiring outside counsel because they may have ongoing professional relationships with people or entities, or on behalf of causes that I, or my office, or Virginia as a whole may not support. But it is crucial for us to be able to trust and rely on the fact that our outside counsel will not desert Virginia due to pressure by an outside group or groups.”

There have been reports that Coca Cola pressured the firm to drop the representation, and HRC had announced an “educational campaign” (which is just a nicer way of saying “campaign to boycott”) regarding King & Spalding’s acceptance of this representation. Legal ethicists have been debating the propriety of King & Spalding’s withdrawal and whether the broad gag rule in the retainer agreement was merely cover for caving into pressure from outside groups. I would be interested to hear what our readers have to say about the ethics of King & Spalding’s decision from a feminist perspective.

-Tony Infanti


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