As discussed in the first section of this post, the once sacrosanct principle that lawyers and law firms were ethically obligated to represent unpopular clients when they needed legal assistance has been deteriorating for the last decade, most recently under pressure from the self-righteous Left. Victims of the new progressive ethic that the ends justify the means, Lawyers and law firms have been threatened when they dared to align themselves with the opposition to progressive agenda items, because, in the universe to the port side of the ideological spectrum, those who don’t agree with the righteous are evil.
And it seems clear that few lawyers possess the courage and integrity to remains professional in their response to such threats.
After the King & Spalding embarrassment described in the earlier post, a similar episode occurred involving Obamacare. In House of Representatives v. Burwell, the House challenged the legality of subsidies the Obama administration paid to insurers. After the House authorized the suit, David Rivkin and his firm, Baker Hostetler, signed a contract to litigate the case.
Rivkin was warned by members of the firm that litigating a case in opposition to Obama could drive off potential clients and hurt Baker Hostetler’s credibility…that is, its bottom line. Within a week after the contract was announced, partners at the firm, which represents many hospital management firms and insurance companies, started to receive urgent calls from general counsels of clients in the health-care industry. The messages were identical: their companies could not continue to associate with Baker Hostetler if it litigated the House’s lawsuit. Many suspected that the Obama administration was behind the scenes, urging health-care companies to drop Baker Hostetler. The firm dropped the case.
The House, suddenly without legal representation, frantically sounded out many of the top firms in Washington without success. The House finally selected D.C. lawyer William Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. Three weeks later, without any explanation, Burck also withdrew from the case under pressure from his firm’s partners.
Concluding that an academic would not face the same kinds of threats, the House chose law professor Jonathan Turley, who filed the suit.
But progressives smelled blood in the water. For example, Harvard students, including Harvard law students, and at least one dean, pressured Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan to drop his role as one of Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys. They also forced him and his wife to resign as resident dean of Winthrop House, because the students didn’t feel safe being overseen by a lawyer who represented bad people. This is as ignorant as it is dangerous. The ABA rule that is quoted somewhere in every jurisdiction’s attorney conduct regulations, Model Rule 1.2(b), reads,
“A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.”
This language is in the various state rules to protect lawyers against exactly the kind of pressure that the Left now mounts against attorneys who allow those who oppose progressive to exercise their right to legal representation. Obviously, it doesn’t work.
As questions were raised about the legitimacy of the election and Trump campaign lawyers began to file cases in various states alleging everything from deceased voters to biased authentication, the strategy of the AUC (The Axis of Unethical Conduct) became, as Professor Turley neatly described it, “Get rid of the lawyers. No lawyers, no cases, no Trump.”
What is most unsettling is that this effort is led or cheered on by lawyers. Take Washington Post columnist Randall Eliason, who gained notoriety supporting an array of theories on impeachment or criminal claims against Trump, including a bribery interpretation long rejected by the Supreme Court and not adopted even by the impeachment-eager House Judiciary Committee. Eliason wrote a column, “Yes, going after Trump’s law firms is fair game.” (Everything seems fair game if the ultimate target is Trump.) Eliason shrugged off the notion that attacking a person’s lawyers, rather than his positions, is beyond the pale: “Law is a profession, but these mega-law firms are also big businesses. Like any business, they can be held accountable by the public — and by their other customers.”
The law is not like any other business, however. Lawyers speak for others, including some of the least popular among us… I have never seen such a campaign led by lawyers against lawyers.
Our legal system works best when competent lawyers present cases to dispassionate judges. In this case, some 72 million Americans voted for Trump, and many believe changes in the process — particularly the massive increase of mail-in voting — undermined the election’s integrity. That is why these cases are important: Faith in our legal and political systems depends on fair access to and representation in the courts. Trying to strip people of their counsel, of course, is the real attack on our democracy.”
The fact that lawyers are complicit in the destruction of their own professional ethics standards tells us just how far this profession has fallen, and how without ethics, limits or shame the enemies of democracy have become. Without professionals who remain objective champions of our rights and liberty, the survival of the republic is in doubt.
What a pity that the voters who chose the party adopting this strategy couldn’t connect the dots.
13 thoughts on “The Left’s Assault On The Rule Of Law And The Legal Profession’s Cowardice, Or “Nice Little Firm You Have Here—Be A Shame If Something Were To Happen To It!” (Continued)”
This is just another facet of the New Operation Chokepoint (the original being obama’s program to deny financial services to disfavored businesses). The deplatforming of The Conservative Treehouse you covered earlier is another such in an ever-widening spread of action against conservative thought and lifestyle.
Not content with most of the media being in bed with them and willing to ghost opposing views while pushing their woke-approved narratives, the illiberal left has been working to ensure that the right doesn’t even have the means to function, by weaponizing access to financing, ISPs, domains, commerce, etc., etc, …and now, the law itself.
Jack wrote, “Without professionals who remain objective champions of our rights and liberty, the survival of the republic is in doubt.”
Jack meet the ledge.
(My boldface for emphasis)
When you get right down to it, those that are demonizing lawyers and law firms for representing “those deplorable people” are in fact trying to strip “those deplorable people” of their Constitutional right to legal representation by open and blatantly intimidating lawyers and law firms into refusing to represent “those deplorable people” because it will likely be a detriment to their business. These people are openly decreeing in society and the court of public opinion that “those deplorable people” don’t deserve their rights. This is another piece of the Constitution being slowly stripped away from a select group of its’ citizens because they disagree with the hive mind of the political left. These people are clearly of the mindset that the Constitution is fine for themselves and those that agree with them but not for those they oppose; this is anti-Constitutional and anti-American. As far as I’m concerned the intimidation tactics of these lawyers and law firms is unconstitutional and therefore illegal because its intent is to literally make “those deplorable people” unrepresentable which violates their individual rights.
Remember how extremists in Germany stripped the Jews of their civil rights in society and the court of public opinion and the results of those rights being stripped.
Correct. They are taking the roundabout way to strip Constitutional rights away. They will argue, correctly, that it isn’t the government taking action so what is happening is okay. After all, the Right has sometimes argued that companies should have the choice to do business or not do business with whomever they wish.
It’s the same way they correctly claim that a business firing an employee for embarrassing it by posting something offensive on social media unrelated to his or her job is not a violation of Constitutional rights. They know the government cannot arrest or fine a person for so-called Hate Speech, so they want to cost the person social credits by ruining his or her life through financial distress or community ostracism.
Citizens will become accustomed to not being able to say what they want, support who they want or spend their money how they see fit because they will fear social justice mobs costing them their homes, friends, ability to make a living, reputations, the whole gamut. It’s insidious. They are using what is normally the purview of the Right – capitalism – to undermine the Constitution and how people view individual liberty. The U.S.S.R. paid lip service to freedom of speech and religion, too, you know. But citizens that utilized their so-called rights found that higher education was suddenly no longer an option for them, ended up at the bottom of the housing or vehicle wait lists or were informed that the country had too many librarians and not enough ditch diggers.
How long before we are no longer able to buy a copy of “Huckleberry Finn”? Or Ayn Rand? Or a biography of George Washington that hasn’t been airbrushed, Soviet-style? Will all of the independent bookstores be put out of business leaving the monolith Amazon to control what books are sold, being careful to eliminate any so-called problematic books? Will used hard-copy editions of Twain be passed around secretly the way Bibles are in closed countries? The government won’t have banned it; not offering it will just be another financial decision, right?
At the same time, they are indoctrinating students from the kindergarten on up on how to be good little progressives, spy on mom and dad, reject any traditional values and, most importantly, always vote Democrat while concurrently failing to actually educate them.
It will be those kids who, 20 years from now, will gladly vote for Constitutional Amendments to limit freedom of expression, eliminate gun rights, restrict due process…
They won’t know any other way to be. Anyone who would have told them differently will have been intimidated into silence.
These actions have dragged us all inside the event horizon.
They are our enemies, and either we eliminate all of them, or they will eliminate us.
I wish I knew how to eliminate them.
I wish I kbew how to eliminate dissent.
I wish I knew how to eliminate the possibility of dissent.
Peaceful coexistence, peaceful dissent, is npt possible inside the event horizon.
And there is no getting out.
If I had the knowledge and means to do the above, I would.not hesitate to do so.
I have had both general and specific experiences in this area.
I am no fan of illegal immigration, but a large portion of my firm’s business is immigration (both coming and going). However, whether you are here legally or not, you have due process rights before you can be deported. My firm protects those rights. And, if I have a criminal client with immigration issues, I have no problem seeking a resolution to a criminal case that will minimize the negative immigration consequences (even if I think they should be deported).
That is the same way I can defend criminal defendants. I don’t condone criminal behavior, but they need help. I fear more the innocent clients than the guilty ones: a guilty client gets convicted because they are guilty; the innocent client gets convicted because I suck.
Then, of course, there were the issues with George Floyd. The riots displaced my office on Lake Street (a reference that is meaningless to almost anyone but Mrs. Q); that displacement is now permanent as the landlord recently decided it will not be renovating, but will sell the building. After the riots, a paralegal stated during a Zoom happy hour that, for all the work we do for immigrants, we have no inroads into the black community. She suggested that a statement that Black Lives Matter would garner a lot of goodwill in the black community.
I explained that we are a law firm and, if there is any message we have to send, it is a fidelity to the law and the process, without condoning either George Floyd’s death or the riots.
I then asked whether anyone felt the phrase Black Lives Matter was a political statement. Lots of ambivalent responses.
Having walked the tightrope for years, I explained that our firm should feel comfortable representing either the police officers involved with George Floyd or the rioters who recently tried to burn down our building.
I meant it.
Instead of speaking out, we kept our mouth shut, a course of action that is usually advisable. Still, neither Big Police, nor BLM, Inc., have rolled up to our door with a wheelbarrow full of money seeking my assistance.
It is difficult. I am still dealing with the repercussions of the riots on a daily or weekly basis. While I fantasize about beating the living snot out of rioters trying to destroy my law firm, I also fantasize about defending people I should rightfully despise.
However, if they did show up with a barrel of cash wanting me to represent them, I would probably need to advise them to hire a different lawyer.
On the bright side, they have NOT shown up with a barrel of cash wanting me to represent them.
You are the man (or woman), Jut. Good for you. I salute your integrity and your perseverance. I got out of practicing law twenty years ago after a twenty year term behind a desk and in front of a credenza. It’s a really hard way to make a living without losing your mind for any number of reasons. Would there were more like you.
This lawyer cancelling thing shows just how awful lawyers can be, given the opportunity. And given the opportunity, so many jump in with both feet.
I know where you are, and why that matters. Stay in the fight.
Geographically or psychologically?
Certainly geographically, and I think psychologically. But that sounds presumptious, since we haven’t met.
I just did not know if you were from the area, or speaking metaphorically.
I lived in the Cities for many years. I’ve likely walked passed your offices.
It has been this way for awhile and it is not just high-profile cases like this. When George Young tried to sue Hawaii over their gun control laws that only allow people to carry guns for defense if it is their job, no attorney in Hawaii would take the case. Unfortunately for him, when he did find attorneys, he lost. I think he had a better argument without them.
There can be no unity, no healing, no peace with these people.
They have dragged us below an event horizon.
They are our enemies.
If our Republic is to survive, our enemies must be eliminated.