Friday, August 12, 2005


Roberts assisted Playboy in case before SCOTUS

Another day, another red flag for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. You have to wonder how long the good people who are having to defend him every day will finally give up the ghost - and whether that will matter at all.

UPDATE: Robert Novak says that it does matter - not with confirming Roberts, but that the final vote count will determine the next nominee. He has a point, but other factors will certainly play into Bush's decision besides the Senate roll call vote (such as Bush's horrid approval rating, for instance).

I do not have strong feelings about Roberts one way or the other but your "red flag" remark today about his firm's representation of Playboy is incredible.

A lawyer spending 12 hours representing a client while working for a firm is a "red flag?" Whether its Walmart, Playboy or the Christian Coalition, if you work in a firm setting, which obviously you never have as an attorney, you do the work that comes in and you do it well for the paying client, as everyone is entitled to a defense and representation.

Just because a lawyer writes a brief or memo or makes an argument in court for a client does not mean the contents of that brief or argument are the personal beliefs of that lawyer - to believe that is opportunistic, ridiculous and bordering on insane. Lawyers write thousands and thousands of arguments for their clients in their career.
Anonymous -

"(Y)ou do the work that comes in and you do it well for the paying client."

Sorry, Anonymous, but are you describing a lawyer or a prostitute?

With all due respect, the "I am in a firm and have to take whatever comes before me, even if it means stealing from babies and winning victories for Satan" line of thought does not strike a chord with me. I suspect that I am not the only one, as more lawyers are in solo practices in America than in firms. You are right - I have not worked in a firm setting, and this is the exact reason why. I won't take a morally indefensible position and then justify it with "that's just the way firms work." That's one reason I took the job as low man on the totem pole with the NRA - because I could sleep at night.

I suspect you know this is true (as I assume not only that you are an attorney, but also one who is or has recently worked for a firm), but you need to make the argument to provide comfort. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect that I am right.


The point of my post, which you clearly ignored to make the whole thing about your moral superiority, was that it is wrong to assume or charge that a lawyer has adopted every argument he or she has ever made on behalf of a client.

Admittedly there are plenty of legal prostitutes out there and some of them do work for the NRA and other right-wing organizations just like they do for Playboy and other alternative or liberal organizations. However, I doubt that doing 12 hours of work on a Playboy file makes Mr. Roberts one.
Anoymous -

Since there are only five attorneys that actually work for the NRA and I know every one of them personally, I can attest that the NRA does not have any "legal prostitutes" on its bi-weekly payroll. They may not agree on everything (several being libertarians more than conservatives), but they strongly adhere to the National Rifle Association's defense of the right to bear arms in America.

Your accusation to the contrary is nothing more than reckless. It isn't as if any of them would suddenly change sides to work for the Brady Campaign just because the anti-firearm crowd could offer them more money.

This isn't about moral superiority. It's about staying true to your principles. The problem with most attorneys (not all, mind you) is that their principles are either for sale to the highest bidder or stay at home, never to make the workplace. (I would say more, but I am hoping to have a longer post on the subject in the near future.)



While I agree with your stand on principle, anonymous's argument has another problem: Walter Smith, head of the pro bono department at Roberts's old firm, said that a lot of conservatives at the firm would turn down cases they had a philosophical or moral problem with. Roberts never did. Perhaps we should find one of those conservative lawyers that were at the firm and nominate *him*. :)
oh, i get it. you support ted turner's causes now.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Rob. But there are more than five lawyers on the payroll: You're forgetting a few guys on the fifth floor. It's still a small number, though.

-Matt B.
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