Boehner’s lawyer Paul Clement: Defending DOMA is like defending Gitmo detainees

Harvard Law talks to John Boehner’s DOMA lawyer, former Bush appointee Paul Clement:

What heartened [Clement] during the [DOMA] controversy (which he said, affably, “wasn’t that unpleasant”) were the reminders by his defenders (including Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced early this year that the Obama administration would no longer defend the federal ban on same-sex marriage in court) that an attorney’s job is simply to represent the client who signed on with him.

“In … representing Congress in connection with DOMA, I think he is doing that which lawyers do when we’re at our best,” Holder told the media in April. “[The] criticism, I think, was very misplaced.”

“It’s not that different from representing Guantánamo detainees. This isn’t a left or right issue; it’s something lawyers should stand together on,” said Clement, who is also defending South Carolina’s controversial voter identification law and Arizona’s disputed immigration law.

First off, we’d all like to thank Attorney General Holder, the White House, and Supreme Court Justice Kagan for all defending Paul Clement’s defense of the DOMA case, and “heartening” him. We’re certain there’s no double standard here as I’m sure Holder, the Obama White House, and Supreme Court Justice Kagan would all have defended segregationist lawyers in the deep South who were fighting to keep anti-miscegenation laws on the books.  Someone should ask them that.

As for Clement and his ridiculous comparison to Gitmo detainees, is DOMA a person, cuz I’m confused.  How exactly is defending an oppressed person and their basic constitutional rights the same thing as defending an oppressive law that denies basic constitutional rights?  Are laws now people, just like corporations?  Rather than Clement doing the same thing as lawyers defending Gitmo detainees, Clement is in fact the exact opposite of the Gitmo lawyers.  Clement is more akin to the lawyers who came up with Gitmo detainment in the first place. But Clement says, no way.

“Look, I’m a Republican,” said Clement. “But it certainly doesn’t define the kinds of cases I take on. You read about one big case and you think, That must be the kind of lawyer he is. That’s not what it’s about. The specialty an appellate lawyer provides is pitching legal cases to appellate judges.

One big case. Really? Two of his other clients, we learn from the article, are people who oppress blacks and Latinos.

Clement, who is also defending South Carolina’s controversial voter identification law and Arizona’s disputed immigration law.

Anyone else see a pattern here?

There are only so many hours in a day.  A lawyer can only handle so many clients.  Yet somehow Paul Clement keeps ending up with cases where he’s helping to take rights away from blacks, gays, and Latinos.  Never seems to end up on the other side.  And as a lawyer, he’s perfectly free to defend the other side of the debate, the side that’s not promoting bigotry and hatred, but somehow he never does.  If there’s no moral inference to be drawn from the cases he chooses, because any lawyer could end up on any side of any issue, then why is it that Paul Clement keeps ending up on the side of the bigots?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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