Virginia AG cancels King & Spalding work for state after "obsequious act of weakness" in DOMA case 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has terminated his office's relationship with King & Spalding, the Atlanta law firm that abrubtly dropped the U.S. House of Representatives as a client for purposes of defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

"King & Spalding's willingness to drop a client, the U.S. House of Representatives, in connection with the lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was such an obsequious act of weakness that I feel compelled to end your legal association with Virginia so that there is no chance that one of my legal clients will be put in the embarrassing and difficult situation like the client you walked away from, the House of Representatives."

Cuccinelli represents Virginia state agencies in court in the same attorney- client relationship as a private individual who retains a lawyer to represent him in a legal case.

Cuccinelli's decision followed the resignation of former Solicitor-General Paul Clement from King & Spalding in protest of the firm's decision to drop the House as a client in a case in which the constitutionality of DOMA is being challenged. Clement said he quit "out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters."

Cuccinelli informed King & Spalding in a letter addressed to Joseph Lynch in its Washington, D.C. office. A copy of the letter was made available to The Washington Examiner. The firm had been retained by the Virginia AG's office Sept. 15, 2009. Cuccinelli said the firm was being terminated "effective immediately."

Cuccinelli said he acted because "Virginia does not shy away from hiring outside counsel because they may have ongoing professional relationships with people or entities, or on behalf of causes that I, or my office, or Virginia as a whole may not support. But it is crucial for us to be able to trust and rely on the fact that our outside counsel will not desert Virginia due to pressure by an outside group or groups."

He added that "Virginia seeks firms of committment, courage, strength and toughness, and unfortunately, what the world has learned of King & Spalding, is that your firm utterly lacks such qualities."

Cuccinelli also said the firm would not be welcome to re-apply for special counsel status for the state as long as he is Attorney General.

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Mark Tapscott

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