The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The problem with the legal profession

The legal profession is the only one where people have to be on the side of evil. A man may be accused of a crime, and until his trial is over, he deserves a defense and the State deserves a prosecution, regardless of what the truth is; even if the prosecutor seriously believes the accused is innocent, it is his job to try to prove him guilty, and even if the defense attorney is truly convinced of his client's guilt, it is incumbent on him to try to convince the judge and jury of the opposite. Among other things, that is why I could never be a lawyer; you really need to be able to persuade a court that black is white, whether you believe it or not.

And this view of the legal profession is one thing that colors the story about Paul Clement and the "Defense of Marriage Act." While I think that Speaker of the House John Boehner is mistaken in hiring Clement to defend the constitutionality of the act, there is a presumption that if you need a lawyer, you should be able to get one, to defend any proposition. And in that sense, Paul Clement was, as Attorney General Eric Holder himself said, "doing what lawyers do." And so Clement cannot really be criticized for taking on the case.

But the law firm that Clement had been working in, King & Spalding, felt, justifiably, that the case was one with which they did not wish to be associated. Thus, King & Spalding withdrew from the case, and Clement resigned from King & Spalding, joining another law firm so he could continue to serve as Boehner's attorney in this case.

In a sense, the whole problem is the nature of the legal profession. King & Spalding did not want to be considered anti-gay-rights, but Clement felt that the pro-DOMA side needed to have his services as an attorney, and thus the result. One can deeply hope Clement loses his case, without criticizing him for acting as he did. And that it qualifies as "doing what lawyers do" is why I think that lawyers are people that have just a whiff of evil about them as a profession.

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