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Under Pressure, Firm Drops DOMA Defense

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Just one week ago, House Republicans signed up a prominent law firm to go to court to support the Defense of Marriage Act. It's been an eventful week. That law firm has now resigned under pressure from gay rights advocates. The decision by the law firm King and Spalding prompted one of its best-known lawyers, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, to quit in protest. NPR's Carrie Johnson has the story.

CARRIE JOHNSON: Conservatives like Ed Whalen say something else was going on.

ED WHALEN: The fact that the firm caved shows that the heat was too intense for its particularly low level of courage.

JOHNSON: Richard Socarides is fighting to get rid of the law.

RICHARD SOCARIDES: All the House of Representatives seeks to defend in this case is the principle of discrimination and second- class treatment for gay Americans.

PAUL CLEMENT: We have an adversary system of justice.

JOHNSON: That's former Solicitor General Paul Clement.

CLEMENT: It just doesn't work if you say that defending one side of the controversy is completely out of bounds.

JOHNSON: Seth Waxman, a prominent Democratic lawyer, says Clement is just doing what a lawyer should.

SETH WAXMAN: His representation is, in fact, in the very highest and finest traditions of our legal system.

JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.