What If They Defended An Anti-Abortion Activist?

Ann Coulter unloads, quite correctly, on the “steaming pile of idiocy” surrounding the attack on Liz Cheney for asking for the list of Justice Department lawyers who defended terrorists:

A group of “leading conservative lawyers” — a phrase never confused with “U.S. Marines” — has produced an embarrassingly pompous letter denouncing Liz Cheney for demanding the names of attorneys at the Justice Department who formerly represented Guantanamo detainees.

The letter calls Cheney’s demand “shameful,” before unleashing this steaming pile of idiocy:

“The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams’ representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre.”

Yes, but even John Adams didn’t take a job with the government for another 19 years after defending the British guards — who, in 1770, were “the police.” He also didn’t take a position with the U.S. government that involved processing British murder suspects.

I’d be more interested in hearing about the sacred duty of lawyers to defend “unpopular clients” if we were talking about clients who are unpopular with anyone lawyers know…

At least 34 of the 50 largest firms in the United States have performed pro bono work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees…

We only hear paeans to the “American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients” when it’s being used to defend causes popular with liberals — serial killers, terrorists and a horny hick who promised to save partial-birth abortion [read: Bill Clinton].

Lawyers want to be congratulated for their courage in defending “unpopular” clients, while taking cases that are utterly noncontroversial in their social circles.

They’d be scared to death to take the case of an anti-abortion activist. Defending the guy who killed George Tiller the Baby Killer won’t make them a superstar at the next ABA convention…

And the Wall Street Journal weighs in:

…while the tone of Ms. Cheney’s ad is unfortunate, the call for transparency is entirely reasonable. The public has a right to know the identities and records of the lawyers Mr. Holder has hired to serve it. Ms. [Jennifer] Daskal, for example, argued that detainees who have not been charged with a crime should be set free, even though “some of these men may cross the border and join the battlefield to fight U.S. soldiers and our allies.”

She made this case in a 2008 Human Rights Watch report—which is to say that she was representing not a client but her own opinion. The Administration is entitled to employ people who hold such views, but it has no right to do so in secret…

Ms. Cheney’s critics on the left are also guilty of more than a little duplicity. Many of them called for the disbarment of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, and for Judge Bybee’s impeachment, because of legal advice they gave when they worked for the Justice Department. Many liberals seem to believe that while it was a war crime to agree with Dick Cheney’s antiterror methods, it is somehow a lawyer’s patriotic duty to defend terrorists. This is the mindset that these columns describe as that of the anti-antiterror left…

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