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Much outrage has resulted from the ill-considered remarks by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles D. “Cully” Stimson regarding the lawyers and law firms that have represented Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, detainees. As Stimson has now acknowledged, by public apology and resignation, the harsh criticism of his statement is warranted. Lawyers and law firms who choose to provide legal representation to individuals suspected of terrorist links are not a threat to the nation. They are acting in the best traditions of the legal profession in a rule of law society. What about judicial nominees? But let’s not allow this sorry episode to pass without learning some bigger lessons. This is not the first time that lawyers have been impugned on the basis of the causes and people they have represented. Indeed it happens regularly, for example, in the confirmation proceedings for federal judicial nominees-including by some of Stimson’s strongest critics. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., expressed his displeasure over Stimson in a Jan. 12 letter to President George W. Bush, asking Bush to disavow Stimson’s statements. Leahy even took the time to emphasize his point with a handwritten note at the bottom saying “this is truly disturbing.” Indeed it is disturbing, but is it any more so than the senator’s suggestion, in his published statement of Sept. 21, 2005, that he had serious concerns about President Bush’s nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to be chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court because of the position on congressional power that Roberts argued to the court while representing clients in four different cases? Leahy also expressed reservations about Roberts because of documents drafted while serving as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and the Reagan and Bush Justice Departments. Surely businesses and elected presidents are entitled to legal representation, and lawyers who provide such counsel are entitled to the same respect as lawyers who represent those accused of crime. Steven Shapiro, in a Jan. 12 statement on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, said of Stimson’s statement, “[w]hat is truly ‘shocking’ is that a senior Administration official would demonstrate so little appreciation for the role of lawyers and the rule of law.” Yes it is shocking, but any more so than the ACLU’s statement in an Aug. 30, 2005, letter to senators Leahy and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., suggesting that Roberts should not be confirmed because of his “briefs and appearances for Associated General Contractors in challenges to federal affirmative action programs and his successful argument before the Supreme Court that a federal statute protecting the privacy of student records was not privately enforceable”? Memos at issue were for clients The New York Times, in an editorial in its Jan. 13 issue called Stimson’s statement “contemptible,” saying it reflected disdain for “the fundamental American right that everyone should have legal counsel, even the most heinous villain.” Yet the Times, in a Sept. 18, 2005, editorial, opposed Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court, saying, among other things, that “memos from earlier in his career raise red flags on issues like civil rights, women’s rights and the right to privacy.” Most of those memos were written for clients Roberts was representing as a lawyer. Unlike Roberts, numerous nominees for the federal bench (of both Republican and Democratic administrations) have failed to secure a favorable vote in the Senate because of the positions and people they have represented as practicing lawyers. While the Bush administration is cleaning up its Cully Stimson problem, let’s hope our U.S. senators are coming to appreciate that lawyers and prospective judges should not be judged by who they represent, but by how well they represent them.

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