Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Attacking Defense Lawyers

In the McCarthy era, demagogues on the right smeared loyal Americans as disloyal and charged that the government was being undermined from within.

In this era, demagogues on the right are smearing loyal Americans as disloyal and charging that the government is being undermined from within.


Defense attorneys have never been popular with the general public. But the most recent attack by a group calling itself Keep America Safe sets a new low by stating that attorneys who represented detainees did not share American values. A number of prominent conservatives have spoken out against this new form of McCarthyism.

Never mind that the vast majority of detainees have been released from custody, many by the Bush Administration. Never mind that the Bush Administration's policies have been repudiated by the U.S. Supreme Court on multiple occasions. Without good defense attorneys, justice in these cases, or any others, would not be possible.

John Adams set the American standard for representing unpopular clients when he defended British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. Every day defense attorneys and private citizens continue this legacy by uncovering wrongful convictions and defending unpopular defendants. 

The fact that the smear tactics of this group are finding a voice suggests how far American values have traveled downward. Fortunately, many people recognize this attack for what it is - an attack on America that is closer to the values of the terrorists. 

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