The Speaker of the House announced today that Paul Clement will defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in current court challenges. Paul Clement served as Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and is well known as one of the most experienced and effective Supreme Court advocates in the nation.
The House was acting in response to President Obama's announcement last February that he was abandoning the legal defense of the DOMA law. Federal law allows the House of Representatives, or the Senate, to intervene to defend laws in such circumstances. The House had earlier announced that it would defend DOMA, and today selected Paul Clement to head that defense.
Paul Clement brings a high level of experience to this effort because he served as Solicitor General under President Bush. The Solicitor General is a position in the Department of Justice that handles all cases involving the federal government at the Supreme Court, as well as approving appeals in lower court cases in which the U.S. government is a party. The Department of Justice under President Bush vigorously defended the Defense of Marriage Act in the cases challenging it at that time, so Paul Clement will undoubtedly make a similar strong defense of the DOMA law.
Most pressing for Paul Clement will be to have the House intervene in two lawsuits in Massachusetts, in which a federal court struck down federal DOMA as unconstitutional. These cases are now on appeal to the federal appeals court in Boston, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. See the ADF resource page for more information about the cases from Massachusetts challenging DOMA.
ADF has been involved in most of the marriage litigation around the nation, including the two cases now before the First Circuit. ADF filed a friend of the court brief in those cases on behalf of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. ADF has also described various arguments President Obama could reasonably use to defend DOMA.
The House of Representatives made an excellent, solid choice by picking Paul Clement to defend DOMA. His presence and advocacy in this case will refute President Obama's dubious conclusion that there is no reasonable legal basis to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.