When the Affordable Care Act was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, Paul Clement led the challenge.
U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued on behalf of the Obama administration.
Clement won raves for his oral arguments; Verrilli’s performance was widely derided.
But it was Verrilli who won.
According to national media reports, the two lawyers again will square off on Tuesday, when Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Kathleen Sebelius is argued in the nation’s highest court.
Numerous phone calls placed to the U.S. Department of Justice public affairs office to confirm that Verrilli would be arguing the government’s case Tuesday were not returned.
The Conestoga Wood Specialties case has been consolidated with that of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores owned by David Green, an evangelical Christian billionaire in Oklahoma.
Here is a primer on the major legal players:
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. was sworn in as the nation’s 46th solicitor general in June 2011; he succeeded Elena Kagan when she was appointed to the Supreme Court.
Verrilli previously served as deputy counsel to President Barack Obama.
David Cortman is the counsel of record for Conestoga Wood Specialties.
He is senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based organization that provides legal support to Christians who feel their religious liberties are being threatened.
Cortman and the other lawyers arguing on behalf of Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby are offering their services pro bono.
Their expenses are being covered by ADF.
Paul Clement will lead the oral arguments for Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby, Lancaster Newspapers has confirmed.
Clement was the U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.
“He is one of the foremost Supreme Court advocates of our generation, so lucky us,” said ADF spokesman Greg Scott. “It’s wonderful for us, and it’s wonderful for the Hahn family that they have an advocate like Paul Clement arguing their case before the Supreme Court.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, was founded in 1994 by a group of conservative Christian leaders, including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru).
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• Women's health advocates say Conestoga Wood Specialties case is a matter of health care, not just religious, liberty
From the Archives
Key court filings
Scott said the organization seeks “to be known as the primary defender of freedom in America.”
Its website says ADF’s founders “saw the critical need to protect religious freedom from repeated attacks by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies.”
Sara Mullen, associate director of ACLU of Pennsylvania, declined to comment on ADF.
According to the ADF website, it has 2,200 allied lawyers representing 31 countries.
ADF is staunchly opposed to abortion and gay marriage. Its website says ADF lawyers have won 80 percent of the religious freedom cases it has litigated.
ADF is funded “completely by individual donations,” Scott said, noting that the organization does not disclose its donors.
It got involved in the Conestoga Wood Specialties case soon after Randall Wenger of the Independence Law Center agreed to represent the Hahns, the owners of the East Earl Township cabinetmaking business.
Wenger, formerly with Clymer & Musser in Lancaster, founded the Independence Law Center.
The center’s website says it seeks to defend “religious and other First Amendment freedoms.”
It is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a socially conservative nonprofit organization founded by Michael Geer of Elizabethtown.
Wenger remains one of the lawyers for Conestoga Wood Specialties.