Paul D. Clement

Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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During the United States Supreme Court arguments over Obamacare, the nation got a rare treat: the chance to see (or at least hear) Paul Clement in action. Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General and current partner at Bancroft PLLC, delivered a brilliant performance before the justices, a veritable master class in appellate advocacy. As Carter Phillips, a veteran SCOTUS litigator himself, told us here at Above the Law, Clement “did a spectacularly good job” and “was just on his game… over a much longer period of time than most of us are required to do it.”

But even Clement couldn’t save Section 3 of the highly problematic Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from going down to defeat in the First Circuit. Before a panel with a majority of Republican-appointed judges, in fact.

Let’s find out who was on the panel, whether there were any dissents, and what the court concluded….

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Carter Phillips

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare overhaul last week, we discussed the case with veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin‘s Washington, D.C. office, is a renowned Supreme Court litigator. He has argued 75 cases in front of the high court, more than any other attorney in private practice.

Check out our conversation below. He had a lot of insightful comments about the performances of Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli, the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and even a few jokes…

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Justice Kavanaugh has a nice ring to it.

* Searching for the perfect holiday present? Via Professor Glenn Reynolds: “As A Christmas Gift, Tell Your Friends and Relatives They’re Fat.” [Instapundit]

* If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, who might get nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court? Mike Sacks offers up a star-studded SCOTUS short list: the brilliant and genial Brett Kavanaugh, the fabulous Diane Sykes, certified superhottie Jeffrey Sutton, emerging feeder judge Neil Gorsuch, and star litigator Paul Clement. [Huffington Post]

* Another proposal on law school transparency. What is this “gainful employment” of which you speak? [Law School Transparency]

* If you can’t find gainful employment, well, maybe you can score a $500 reward from a concerned parent. [The Legal Satyricon]

* Speaking of Marc Randazza, here’s an interview in which he discusses “putting the nail in copyright holding company Righthaven’s coffin.” [WebmasterRadio.FM]

* A riddle from Eric Turkewitz: How is Indiana just like the old Soviet Union? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* An interesting profile (by Peter Lattman) of Albert Foer — father of the three famous Foer brothers, and a celebrated and successful antitrust law crusader. [DealBook / New York Times]

The president looks good in a doctor's coat, no?

In a development that should surprise no one, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning agreed to review the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare. This means that, before the end of the current SCOTUS Term in summer 2012, Anthony Kennedy the justices will rule on the validity of this sweeping legislation (unless they avoid the question on jurisdictional grounds, as Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit recently did — a path that might appeal to Justice Kennedy, as suggested by Professor Noah Feldman, and a path that the Court itself highlighted by mentioning the jurisdictional issue in its certiorari grant.)

In the meantime, there will be a lot of cocktail party chatter about the health care reform law and its constitutionality. If you’d like some quick talking points, for use when you get the inevitable “What do you think about this as a lawyer?” questions from friends and family at Thanksgiving, keep reading….

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He has really run the table of conservative causes. Paul is such a good advocate and such a cheerful friend that it’s easy to forget how conservative he is.

Walter Dellinger, former acting Solicitor General during the Clinton Administration, commenting to the New York Times about Paul Clement, former Solicitor General during the Bush Administration.

Paul Clement and John Boehner: now out of King & Spalding's hair.

Some people, including crisis communications experts, think that King & Spalding should just shut up already about the DOMA debacle. The firm agreed to represent the House of Representatives in defending the controversial Defense of Marriage Act, and then almost immediately turned around and withdrew from the representation. This prompted the departure from the firm of star appellate litigator Paul Clement, former Solicitor General of the United States, who took the DOMA matter over to his new firm, Bancroft PLLC.

The decision to drop DOMA defense also led to the defections of King & Spalding clients, like the NRA and the state of Virginia. It generated criticism of the firm from diverse quarters — everyone from Ken Cuccinelli to the New York Times editorial board. [FN1]

Despite the advice of the communications experts (with which I personally agree), King & Spalding continues to discuss the DOMA debacle. The firm is starting to sound like a therapy patient that won’t relinquish the couch, and just wants to yap and yap and yap. Are you listening?

Let’s look at the latest revelations — and also some compensation news out of K&S….

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I think it’s important for lawyers on the other side of the political divide from Paul, who’s a very fine lawyer, to reaffirm what Paul wrote [in his resignation letter from King & Spalding]. Paul is entirely correct that our adversary system depends on vigorous advocates being willing to take on even very unpopular positions. Having undertaken to defend DOMA, he’s acting in the highest professional and ethical traditions in continuing to represent a client to whom he had committed in this very charged matter.

Seth Waxman, former U.S. Solicitor General (under President Clinton) and current WilmerHale partner, commenting to Washingtonian magazine on the decision of fellow former S.G. Paul Clement to resign from King & Spalding and join Bancroft PLLC. At Bancroft, the D.C. boutique law firm founded by former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, Clement will continue to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives in its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Paul Clement (left) and John Boehner (right)

The leading law firm of King & Spalding, which came under fire from LGBT rights groups after its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became public last week, has moved to withdraw from the litigation. The firm cited problems with the vetting process applied to the engagement.

And Paul Clement, the former U.S. Solicitor General and King & Spalding partner who was going to spearhead the DOMA defense, is now a former K&S partner. He resigned from K&S this morning, in response to the firm’s withdrawal decision. Clement will continue his representation of the House of Representatives in DOMA litigation from his new home, Bancroft PLLC, the high-powered D.C. boutique founded by a fellow alum of the Bush Department of Justice, Georgetown law professor Viet Dinh.

UPDATE (12:20 PM): We reached out for comment to Professor Dinh, who said: “Paul wins the biggest cases and Bancroft solves the most complex problems. This is a no brainer. We will continue to do what Paul and I love doing most, which is to serve the best interests of our clients.”

Let’s take a look at King & Spalding’s stated justification for dropping the DOMA representation, and at Paul Clement’s resignation letter….

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Paul Clement (left) and John Boehner (right)

They say that everyone is entitled to a lawyer. [FN1] But is everyone entitled to the services of former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, one of our nation’s finest appellate advocates? At a discounted rate, no less?

As we mentioned in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, the U.S. House of Representatives has hired Paul Clement and Clement’s law firm, the venerable King & Spalding, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA, which essentially bars recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of federal law, has been struck down in part by various federal courts, and the Obama Administration has decided to stop defending the 1996 law in constitutional challenges.

So the House Republicans have stepped up to the plate to defend DOMA. And they’ve hired some high-powered counsel for the task, namely, Clement and King & Spalding.

The contract between the House and King & Spalding was made public today by the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (after Speaker John Boehner declined to release it). The agreement contains some interesting tidbits, including the hourly rate the House will be paying, as well as a cap (although an adjustable one) on the fees to be paid to K&S.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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