Suffolk University Law School Professor Andrew Perlman, whose work focuses on legal ethics and professional responsibility, is available to comment on the ethics of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's declaration that he will not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, which Herring believes is unconstitutional. Instead Virginia will join a suit asking a federal court to strike it down.
Perlman says that the appropriateness of the attorney general’s decision revolves around whom he represents: the people, the government or the interests of justice.
“The answer is often context-specific. But when push comes to shove, if the attorney general believes that the law is indefensible from a constitutional standpoint, I believe it is ethically appropriate for him to refuse to defend the law.”
Perlman served as the chief reporter for the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which successfully proposed numerous changes to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and related policies to address advances in technology and the increasing globalization of law practice. He is a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct and has written widely on issues related to professional responsibility.