Is Paul Clement Secretly A Dumb-Dumb?

by evanmcmurry

We’re all having a great time (and rightfully so!) over the new DOMA briefs from the anti-gay marriage groups arguing…something pertaining to marriage, unintended procreation, and the state’s interest in enforcing shotgun marriages (see Gin and Tacos and Wonkette for funnies).

But lost in all this: it’s Paul Clement making these arguments.* Clement is one of the most renowned constitutional litigators out there!

Or at least he’s supposed to be. Clement had a moment last spring when he seemed to knock both the Obamacare and SB 1070 arguments out of the park for the conservatives. Especially after Donald Verrilli whiffed both oral arguments (I still want to bring Verrilli a glass of water), Clement arose as the superior rhetorician, single-handedly plucking Obamacare from constitutional inevitability and Arizona’s immigration law from certain defeat, mounting a successful last stand against Obama’s overreach not via vitriol but calm, cool logic. He was crowned King Orator before the decisions were even handed down.

But then those decisions were handed down, and the rest is history. The world was so consumed by the drama of the Court’s rulings—Roberts is a librul! Obama bullied SCOTUS!—nobody bothered to revise the judgment of Clement’s abilities; he snuck out the back with his provisional crown still on.

That Clement is slinging some embarrassing slop in the DOMA case is probably just a sign that no good arguments against gay marriage remain. (As djw points out, one of the unintended benefits of deciding these matters in the court is making bigots actually construct logical arguments to support their prejudices, with the predictably absurd consequences you see before you.) But at some point, we need to start wondering whether Clement actually is the inestimable constitutional warrior we’ve made him out to be.

* And we’re paying him to do it!