There is a certain historical irony in the same movement that fought to give every rapist and killer the right to a free lawyer is now working to take away the right of people they don’t like to be able to pay for a lawyer.
But that is the basic trajectory of the Left.
1. Turn a legal right into an entitlement
2. Make the entitlement dependent on a political test rather than an objective service
The steepness of the rate of descent is all the more notable when you consider that four years ago the right to an attorney (and the idea that a lawyer was all the more noble for taking the cases of the worst possible people) was all but unchallenged. And now it’s all but in the dumpster.
When a tape of Hillary Clinton laughing about representing a brutal child rapist came out, the media rushed to defend the sanctity of the right to a lawyer.
Fast forward in time, and one of President Trump’s lawyers was arrested and charged, others are being openly threatened with being disbarred. And simply providing legal representation results in public disavowals.
Chapman University became the latest organization to formally distance itself from a Trump legal effort after it ordered faculty member John Eastman to stop using a Chapman email, phone number and physical address in his court filings on behalf of Trump before the Supreme Court. A recent court filing by the Trump campaign shows that Eastman has since changed his listed address to a UPS store in Anaheim, Calif.
Eastman’s ties to Chapman “should not be construed as implying any concurrence or approval for his actions by the university,” said Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa. In a lengthy response to Chapman, Eastman said law faculty frequently use the university’s address on court filings, and he accused the university of having a double standard toward Trump supporters.
That’s the obvious reality.
Had Eastman been representing a serial killer, it’s doubtful that any university would have made such a move. And if it had, the media and members of the profession would have been appalled.
Eastman was formerly the dean of Chapman’s law school. President Struppa’s message about him was ugly, abusive, and dishonest. It also touches on the difference between legal and political representation.
In fact, when acting privately, Chapman faculty and staff are not free to use Chapman University’s email address, physical address or telephone number in connection with the support of a political candidate. When staff and faculty act privately, there is an affirmative duty to make it clear that any opinions expressed or positions taken do not reflect the opinions or positions of the university.
Eastman is providing legal representation. Acting as a lawyer for an elected official or a candidate is not supporting that candidate. Struppa’s erosion of the distinction is deeply disturbing.
And it’s part of a growing trend on the Left that treats providing legal services as a political endorsement.
Lefty faculty members had written a petition arguing falsely that, “John Eastman’s brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election in multiple states is a disgraceful attack on American democracy and must be regarded as such. This filing of legal errors and outright falsehoods — in which Eastman has used his Chapman email and phone number — is contrary to the core values of this university and should be regarded as an embarrassment. This is not who we are.”
The use of Eastman’s email and phone number at Chapman is the only actual linkage.
This is a disgrace and a threat to the basic right of legal representation. The Left wants to make it an entitlement and then take it away from anyone it opposes.