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Posted By Linda Bowles On 12/05/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
commentary that included a passage about the legal profession and lawyers has evoked a strong response from readers, including purrs of support from friends and caterwauls of outrage from foes. Since the subject is of such interest and because passions are running high, it is fitting to extend the discussion.
Here is the passage in question: “From my jaundiced perspective, the majority of lawyers plying their trade, at almost any moment in time, are engaged either in the circumvention of the law, the exoneration of criminals, the deconstruction of the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, the distortion of objective reality, legal blackmail, the overthrow of discernible truth, the manipulation of the ignorant masses, or the defeat of justice.”
This honest and open acknowledgment of a “jaundiced perspective” was apparently misunderstood. Some of my dearest friends are lawyers. And totally overlooked is that my lack of respect for most lawyers flows directly from my great respect for the law.
Moreover, righteous indignation at the behavior of lawyers in general puts me in very good company. Merle Kessler had this to say about them: “They don’t produce anything. All they do is guide you through the labyrinth of the legal system that they created — and they keep changing it just in case you start to catch on.” Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus added, “Anything which causes trouble has special merit in their eyes.” Noted English author Samuel Johnson observed, “I would be loath to speak ill of any person who I do not know deserves it, but I am afraid he is an attorney.” The famous playwright George Bernard Shaw had one of his characters say, “Whenever you wish to do anything against the law, Cicely, always consult a good solicitor first.” And one suspects William Shakespeare was expressing his own hostility when he had one of his actors say, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
Finally, Jesus rendered a harsh judgment of legalists. He blasted the whole group of them in Luke 11:46: “… Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” Jesus was so upset that a few verses later he added this: “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”
These biting reproaches are as valid today as they were then, and raise an honest speculation that the legal profession has been full of self-serving scoundrels for at least 2,000 years.
America has more than 850,000 lawyers, far more than the rest of the world combined. We don’t have that many lawyers because we have so many lawsuits; we have that many lawsuits because we have so many lawyers.
And they move like sorghum molasses. It takes three months for the swiftest of them to write one letter and make two phone calls. We should never have consented to paying lawyers by the hour. If they were paid in terms of how swiftly death sentences are carried out, convicted murderers would not make it out of the courtroom alive.
Our system of justice has become a paradigm for our faltering and confused society. Our courtrooms have become little more than subjective charades, where overpaid lawyers preen and perform for cameras, and where juries, being a sample of the general population, are easily misled, becoming quickly lost in a maze of moral relativism and psychological gibberish and unable to make coherent decisions about corruption and virtue, truth and lies and innocence and guilt.
The integrity of the Constitution has been frittered away. Over the years, clever legal minds buried the Constitution beneath a mountain of bad law, which then became the precedent for other bad law. The benchmark for judicial decisions shifted from the Constitution to the last successful violation of it.
Lawyers have made a mockery of the Constitution, using it to set up double and triple standards of justice for select minorities, violate constitutionally protected states’ rights, rationalize infanticide, espouse obscene speech, suppress religious speech, violate private property rights to save endangered butterflies, outlaw moral discernment, redistribute wealth, apotheosize victimhood and set up religious apartheid.
We have become a nation not of stable laws, but of inconstant and willful men. It has put us on a road first to chaos and then to tyranny. Florida is the prelude.
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