October 27, 2009

Liberals See Themselves as only Defenders of Civil Rights and Justice; Still Don't Understand Legal Philosophy of the Right

Once again we have the left wing media not understanding the right, whether conservative or libertarian. The Wall Street Journal's law blog recently discussed Paul Clements supposed flirtation with liberalism. What is so flirtatious about Clement's conduct?
So, how’s he faring in private practice? The NLJ reports that Clement landed two Supreme Court arguments this term ─ not too shabby ─ and one hug from a client. His secret, so far, has been to embrace left-leaning causes, of all things.

In the first case, argued Oct. 14, he represented a Children’s Rights group that is pushing for enhanced legal fees following a victory in a 2005 civil rights case. (Here’s an LB post on the case.)

In a case to be argued Nov. 4 he will represent men wrongly convicted in the murder of a retired Iowa police officer. In June, NLJ reports, Clement traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to pitch his services pro bono to Curtis McGhee Jr. and Terry Harrington, who were found guilty of murder in 1977 but are now suing their Iowa prosecutors for falsifying evidence. The men were so impressed by his pitch that they ended the meeting with a hug, which Clement calls a “definite first.”

Ilya Shapiro at Cato takes down this supposed transformation of Clement. In a post titled "Defending Civil Rights and Suing Rogue Prosecutors Is Left-Wing Lawyering?" Shapiro writes:
Is this another case of a conservative lawyer “growing” in office or “drifting” to the left, seduced by the cocktail parties and press attention of the Washington elite?

Hardly. The two cases that prompted this gnashing of teeth (or cautious optimism, depending on where the commentator resides on the political spectrum) are Perdue v. Kenny A. and Pottowattamie County v. McGhee. In Kenny A., Clement represented a group of public interest attorneys who won a big case on behalf of mistreated foster children and argued that they should be entitled to the enhanced fees the trial court awarded them for exceptional performance. In McGhee, Clement’s clients are two men who were framed by overzealous prosecutors and served 25 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit — the convictions for which were based on the prosecutors’ fabricated evidence.

To say that these are left-wing positions is to consider the Left to be the only possible champion of justice and constitutional rights, and to paint the non-Left as standing for limitless, unaccountable governmental power. Neither of these positions is accurate, to say the least.

I commented on a similar phenomenon during the Sotomayor hearings.
What is interesting is how little liberals actually know about conservative judicial philosophy and how they come off as a result. This is embodied by Sen. Shumer's opening remarks.
In his introductory comments at Monday's hearing on prospective Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotamayor, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) boasted that over the course of her career, the nominee "ruled for the government in 83% of immigration cases, in 92% of criminal cases." This apparently is a plus. ...

Mother Jones correspondent Stephanie Mencimer's summary of the hearings thus far is a bit over the top, but not by much:

Republicans would accuse Sotomayor of being a soft-hearted minority, and she would parry with examples from her 17-year judicial career where she'd been as mean or meaner than any white guy on the bench.

This shows that all Schumer and the Democrats know is a results oriented judicial philosophy. There is no thought to principles of interpretation or a limited role for the judiciary, just results.

And all good results just happen to be liberal results, natch.

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