Name almost any legal dispute involving the House of Representatives, and chances are Kerry Kircher is on the case.
As general counsel to the House since 2011, Kircher, 59, has negotiated with the Obama Justice Department to obtain documents from the “Fast and Furious” operation. And he signed the multi million -dollar contract with Bancroft’s Paul Clement to defend the Defense of Marriage Act — which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down nonetheless in June.
“Kerry is a true professional who is keenly focused on protecting the long-term institutional interests of the House,” Clement said. “He is the rare individual who has mastered both the legislative process with all its obscure subtleties and the litigation process.”
In spite of the Republican cast of these most recent battles, Kircher is not viewed as highly partisan. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — composed of the House speaker and the two top leaders of the majority and minority party — calls the shots. When Republicans are in power, that’s the direction Kircher moves in.
The advisory group voted, 3-2, to defend the federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Kircher served as deputy general counsel from 1996 to 2011, so has worked under Democratic supervision, too.
Joseph Onek of The Raben Group, formerly senior counselor to then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said, “Kerry is an excellent lawyer who has served in Democratic and Republican Congresses, and I don’t think he has served in a partisan way.”
Kircher, Onek said, is passionate about protecting the prerogatives of the House and its members, especially under the speech -or -debate clause, which says members “shall not be questioned in any other place” for official actions.
In 2006, Kircher argued in federal court alongside lawyers for Representative William Jefferson (D-La.) in challenging the constitutionality of an FBI raid on Jefferson’s office in search of evidence he was taking bribes.
Giving members of Congress special protection from intrusion by the other branches, Kircher said at the time, was a decision made by “the Madisons, the Hamiltons and the Franklins more than 200 years ago.” — Tony Mauro