Eric Holder on Paul Clement

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 4:12 PM

NPR's Carrie Johnson is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken out strongly on behalf of Paul Clement:

To the list of prominent lawyers defending former Solicitor General Paul Clement's decision to leave his law firm and keep defending an increasingly unpopular federal statute that prohibits same sex marriage, add this one: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

At a briefing with Justice Department reporters Tuesday afternoon, Holder said, "Paul Clement's a great lawyer. He's done a lot of great things for this nation. I think he was doing that which lawyers do when we are at our best," by taking on even unpopular cases and clients.

Notably, Holder made the same point I made last night about the relationship between this episode and the attacks on Justice Department lawyers last year:

In the meeting with reporters, Attorney General Holder likened the backlash to unfair attacks last year on Democratic lawyers who had defended Guantanamo Bay detainees in habeas cases.

I'm not sure whether a transcript or recording of his exact remarks on this point exists, but I will post them if I can get them.