Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Here's one of the lead items at Fox Nation right now:

The link goes to this excerpt, approvingly quoted from a Washington Independent story:

Would You Hire a Klan Lawyer for the DOJ Civil Rights Division?

Hans Von Spakovsky, a former counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Bush administration aligned himself with Cheney. "I don't think it is unfair or somehow improper to criticize those lawyers who have volunteered to help the enemies of the United States who are dedicated to killing as many innocent Americans as possible and destroying our country," Von Spakovsky told TWI. "I certainly don't think those same lawyers should be in the Justice Department directing policy and making decisions on prosecutions of those same terrorists. That would be like hiring Mob lawyers in the Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force or hiring someone who volunteered to defend the Klu Klux Klan in the Civil Rights Division. Those lawyers who all come from big firms have a wide choice of who to help on a pro bono basis and their choice of terrorists says a lot about them –- I would not hire them to represent my company either if I were still a corporate in-house counsel, because I would not want my company's money subsidizing that kind of legal work."

I can't find any Klan defenders in Holder's Justice Department, but I can certainly find Klan defenders whose work I think Holder would approve of.

How about Eleanor Holmes Norton, currently D.C.'s non-voting member of the House of Representatives, who, as a young ACLU lawyer, defended the free-speech rights of Klansmen, George Wallace, and the National States Rights Party?

Or Anthony P. Griffin, who defended a Klan Grand Dragon in the early 1990s and won the 1993 William J. Brennan, Jr., Award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression?

Or David P. Baugh, who defended a Klan cross-burner in 1998 and subsequently received the Virginia State Bar's Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award?

All three of these lawyers are African-American, by the way.

This is a disgraceful argument. Attempting to secure due process for terrorism defendants, or free speech rights for racist haters, is not the same as waging jihad or fomenting a race war. It's about maintaining a society with the rule of law.

But, of course, we're dealing with the modern right wing. The righties aren't going to let it go, and they're going to keep making the same argument relentlessly until conventional-wisdom-mongers think it's reasonable and not scurrilous.

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