We’re so intolerant of their intolerance.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post notes that the Post’s conservative blogger is vewy vewy angwy that the gays are fighting back.
The latest round got started this morning, when the Weekly Standard published an internal email from the Human Rights Campaign detailing that HRC had “contacted many of the firm’s clients” as part of its campaign to get King and Spalding to drop the case. Right wing bloggers, such as Jennifer Rubin, are pouncing on this as proof that the left engaged in an “unprincipled campaign” of intimidation to deprive the House of Representatives of legal representation.
Yes, the gays are so powerful that the United States House of Representatives will never be able to have legal representation ever again. Right. My heart strings are pulling, Mary.
I particularly love this quote the Post’s right-wing blogger, Jennifer Rubin, got from the Heritage Foundation – as if we should trust anything the Heritage Foundation has to say on civil rights issues. Their statement reads like Sarah Palin wrote it:
Todd Gaziano, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, responded to my inquiry about the campaign to get the law firm to dump the case: “The new legal realists know no fixed principles except the outcomes they desire. To many liberal activists, principles embodied legal ethics rules (or any other code of conduct), such as the rule against abandoning a client once a lawyer accept [sic] the representation, are only for conservative suckers, who should be doubly mocked for thinking that neutral principles apply to radical movements.”
Huh? The new legal realists know no fixed principles? Principles embodied legal ethics rules? This quote reads like it was badly translated directly from the German.
Looks like we need a law making English the official language of the Heritage Foundation.
As for the substance of the quote, he seems to be suggesting that liberals don’t believe in the rule of law. Yeah, like the time we launched that domestic eavesdropping program without going to the FISA court. Or the time we set up indefinite detentions at Gitmo to get around the US Constitution. Or the time we let Karl Rove get away with outing a CIA agent. Or the time we lied to Congress, and the nation, in order to launch a war of convenience. Oh wait… never mind.
What’s particularly interesting is that the Post’s Jennifer Rubin is ignoring the main argument the firm made for dropping the case, that the contract wasn’t sufficiently vetted. What they’re referring to is the contract provision that forbade their own employees, even employees not working on the case, from doing any advocacy on the outside that might help to overturn DOMA. That means making a donation to a gay right’s group, or even marching in a gay Pride parade, would be verboten. It’s a rather awful provision, and one that the firm, obviously, wasn’t pleased about once it went public. Funny that someone writing for the Washington Post would conveniently fail to mention the the most important part of the story. Then again, the Post is intimately familiar with the ethical deficiencies of conservative bloggers. Once burned, twice shy, you know.
It’s also interesting that the Post’s conservative blogger, and legal “experts” like Benjamin Wittes, are unable to appreciate the nuance between defending an unpopular client and defending an unpopular cause. No one said the law firms should drop the anti-gay case because John Boehner is a Republican, or even because John Boehner is the guy pushing the case. What we’re saying is that the cause itself is unjust, just as a law firm defending segregation, or anti-miscegenation laws, would clearly face public scrutiny and criticism, and rightly should. Not every cause deserves a lawyer.
Yet again, the Washington Post’s conservative blogger somehow, magically, fails to mention the actual argument being made by the opposition. It’s almost as if she wants to mislead the Post’s readership.
One more point. I thought the right was for free enterprise and freedom of speech? How fascinating that the right now believes that law firms should face a professional “individual mandate” where they are required by law to take all clients. Downright socialist of you, Comrade Rubin.
And finally, a personal note. If the Post is going to hire a conservative blogger, could they at least hire one that can write well?
It is gratifying that distinguished lawyers from diverse ideological perspectives can agree on this fundamental issue: Lawyers shouldn’t fold like a cheap suitcase when their clients become unpopular, and ostensible defenders of the sanctity of our judicial system shouldn’t become bullies when it comes to the right to representation.
It is gratifying that distinguished lawyers from diverse ideological perspectives can agree on this fundamental issue? What editor would approve that rambling sentence? And the analogy to “folding like a cheap suitcase” – never heard that one before. Even for a blog, the writing is pretty poor and clumsy; the cadence is all off, making it difficult to read. One would expect more from a writer for the Washington Post.
Dear God, there’s more – read her conclusion:
In short, the left is playing with fire in trying to deprive its political opponents of legal counsel. More important, the lawyers who decided to capitulate have put in jeopardy their own reputations and the guarantee of loyalty that clients have a right to expect from their lawyers. They will all now need to reap what they have sown.
Let’s ignore the horrific writing in that graf, and focus instead on what we can only assume to be the intended message: How dare we take the right to legal counsel away from conservative bigots who took away our rights of marriage? Hypocrisy much? And no one is taking away their right to legal counsel. We are simply exercising free speech, as is the law firm in question. Conservatives have a difficult time understanding the difference between the freedom to do something and the freedom to do it immune from consequence. They conflate the two when it’s to their political advantage. “How dare you publicly criticize me, and make me take responsibility for my actions,” conservatives cry. You see, freedom to be a conservative means freedom from criticism, in their eyes. It means they get to say and do what they want, and you have to STFU while they do it with impunity.