Google hires law firm Perkins Coie to fight RNC's spam filter lawsuit

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Perkins Coie at their legal offices in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Google's defenders include former Obama-appointed federal judge, and ex-DOJ appellate lawyer
  • The Republican National Committee said Google discriminated against it by routing its email to spam folders

(Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google LLC has hired law firm Perkins Coie to defend against the Republican National Committee's lawsuit claiming the technology company is sending the political group's emails to users' spam filters.

A team of Perkins Coie lawyers, including veteran partner Sunita Bali, and new arrivals Abdul Kallon and Michael Huston, was hired this week, according to filings on Thursday in Sacramento, California, federal court.

The RNC claimed in its lawsuit filed in October that Google was "discriminating" against it by routing its emails to spam folders. Google denied the claims.

While Perkins long has provided legal services to the Democratic National Committee in matters of political law, and to political candidates, most of the lawyers fielded to defend against the RNC's claims focus on privacy, security and business litigation.

San Francisco-based Bali has represented Google and affiliated companies, including YouTube, in privacy and other cases.

Huston joined the law firm in October from the U.S. Justice Department, where he was an assistant to the solicitor general and argued cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. Kallon, a federal district judge in Alabama appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama, joined Perkins in September from the bench.

The Perkins team will face off against the RNC's lawyers at two small firms, Dhillon Law Group and Consovoy McCarthy, that often represent conservative clients in legal matters.

Harmeet Dhillon, in San Francisco, is on the team representing former Republican President Donald Trump in the lawsuit he filed last month in a bid to block the Jan. 6 U.S. congressional committee's subpoena to him. Dhillon also led some cases challenging pandemic-era restrictions.

Virginia-based Consovoy defended Trump's effort to keep his tax returns out of the hands of U.S. lawmakers. The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 22 ruled against Trump.

Bali and the other Perkins lawyers on Friday did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and neither did a spokesperson for Google.

The RNC's lawyers also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit alleged "Google has relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to potential donors' and supporters' spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building."

Google denied that its systems filter email based on political affiliation. "As we have repeatedly said, we simply don't filter emails based on political affiliation," a spokesperson said on Friday. "Gmail's spam filters reflect users' actions."

Read more:

Republican National Committee sues Google over email spam filters

Perkins Coie hires new appellate practice leader from U.S. solicitor general's office

Elias departs Perkins Coie, as firm says will continue political law practice

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