Harvard Law School has abandoned one of the core principles of American jurisprudence — a citizen’s right to counsel when standing alone before the state.
[UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! I hope you appreciate this post — and I hope that you read it through the filter that Glenn Reynolds provided: “To be fair, Rakesh Khurana is the Dean of Harvard College. The Law School itself hasn’t done anything wrong.” It was careless of me to make that mistake, but I stand by the general principles that animate this post regarding a lawyer’s role in keeping the government honest.]
I went to law school in a red state during the Reagan era. As you can imagine, law and order was a big deal there and then. Early on in my Constitutional Law class, our professor (a very famous Con Law scholar, I might add) asked the class for a show of hands signaling which of us would be willing to represent a defendant we knew was guilty of a heinous crime. Not a single hand went up.
He scolded us soundly and I have never forgotten what he said. I can’t remember it verbatim, I’m sorry to say, but I can remember the gist:
He said that, because the state’s police power is so vast; because it is judge, jury, and executioner; because it has a permanent cadre of lawyers dedicated to prosecuting law that they know intimately; and because of the breadth and depth of the state’s access to information, no one should ever have to face the law entirely alone.
Every individual, no matter how awful he is or seems to be, should have someone at his side when facing the awesome majesty of the government. We do this, not to allow bad people to escape justice, but to ensure that the government doesn’t abuse the tremendous power it has.