Criticism of Marriage Case Lawyer Is ‘Misplaced,’ Holder Says

Attorney General Eric Holder defended a former Bush administration lawyer who was hired by Republicans in the U.S. House to argue for the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Paul D. Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush, was “doing that which lawyers do” in agreeing to defend the law, Holder said today at a news conference in Washington. The measure bars same-sex married couples from collecting federal benefits when eligibility is determined by marital status.

Clement announced his resignation yesterday as head of Atlanta-based King & Spalding LLP’s national appellate practice after the firm withdrew as counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner said last month that Republicans would defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act after the Obama administration said it won’t defend the constitutionality of the law. The move to hire King & Spalding sparked criticism from the gay and lesbian community.

Holder said criticism of Clement for representing the House was “very misplaced.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Blum in Washington at jblum4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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