Important Class-of-One Case
A Birthday Gift

What Would Darrow Do?

I've been blissfully unaware of the world and its events for the past two weeks. Well, maybe not so blissful, but certainly unaware. My wife had surgery a week ago, so I have been home, serving as private duty nurse and loving every minute of it.

Did I really catch a snippet of some knucklehead on the Sentate Judiciary Committee grilling John Roberts on his choice of clients? It was a low-water mark in hearings remarkable for how little they revealed about what is at stake in the choice of a justice.

Q. Is it true, Judge, that you advised counsel seeking to strike down a Colorado law prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians?

A. Yes, I did.

Q.  Well what would you have done if the other side called first? I mean some of us think it is wrong to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Would you have advised the other side?

A.  Er, um ... well, yes, I would have.

The exchange made my heart ache. I guess no criminal defense lawyer will ever be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Q.  Is it true you represented a man convicted of sodomizing his daughter?

A.  Yes.

The question is a yawning non-sequitor. Lawyers represent people in the principled resolution of conflict. We don't endorse the conduct that brings a client to court. We deal with it, as matters of law.

The Senator who lobbed this softball at Roberts deserves scorn. Lawyers fight for clients. Play-acting is left, apparently, to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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