The House Republicans have recruited Bush-era U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend DOMA in court. He works for the prestigious Atlanta-based firm King & Spalding.
The Justice Department was running an anemic defense of the law before the president and attorney general said that the section 3 of the law was unconstitutional, a defense that focused more on the legal right of Congress to have passed DOMA and less on justifying its substance. This was a departure from Bush administration and early Obama administration defenses of DOMA that argued for it on the ground that straight parents are better, that straight relationships are better, and that gay people should not have the full support of the government.
So NOM's happy with this move:
"At last we have a legal eagle on this case who actually wants to win in court! Paul Clement is a genuinely distinguished lawyer, a former solicitor general of the United States, who we are confident will win this case," Brown said in a statement. "Thanks to Speaker Boehner's actions, President Obama's attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to work," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage."
HRC and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been complaining about the cost of defending DOMA, a move that, if Boehner has his way, will backfire:
"The burden of defending DOMA, and the resulting costs associated with any litigation that would have otherwise been born by DOJ, has fallen to the House," Boehner wrote in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Monday. "Obviously, DOJ's decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA. It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA."
Obviously, the firm that the House hired will be much more expensive than DOJ lawyers, which is entirely the point. It'll punish the Obama administration and the DOJ and score some political points with the far-right.
Clement's firm, though, touts its LGBT-friendliness:
King & Spalding is committed to having the brightest and most diverse lawyers it can find, including members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. We work hard to foster and maintain an environment where our lawyers can provide the highest level of legal service while being true to themselves in the process. The firm's non-discrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, domestic partner benefits are offered for same-sex couples.
The firm has an entire page on its site devoted to its LGBT workplace policies, including its 95 CEI score from HRC. One might not think it's fair to judge the firm based on the actions of one of its partners, but since the firm itself brags about its partners pro-gay actions on its site, clearly they left themselves open to criticism about their anti-gay partners.
When it comes to the bottom line, I can see why they'd want this case: there are dozens of challenges to DOMA going on right now throughout the federal court system, and billing to the US House will probably be cost-plus. Like most Republican policies, it's a nice little cash cow for their loyal partisans.