Back before he became a faceless bureaucrat, the Mad Dog spent some of his law career doing defense work. He told me once that one of the things that angered him was the notion that defending someone meant condoning what that person allegedly did. This was particularly problematic when he might have to defend someone who was clearly guilty. But of course, if the defense attorney doesn’t work as hard for the guilty as he does for the innocent, he or she is prejudging, even throwing, the case. This is contrary to the principle of equality before the law. Ultimately, it’s the attorney’s responsibility to fight as hard as possible for the client, whoever that client may be.
(Incidentally, this is why I don’t despise the attorneys who represented my brother in his trial for the murder of our parents. Michael was as entitled to defense as anyone, and it would have been despicable if his lawyers hadn’t fought for him. Did their actions prolong my pain? Yes, and in part, they caused me additional pain. But I don’t see it as malice on their part: for the system to work, I think it was necessary.)
This brings us to an article in yesterday’s WaPo, regarding the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the firm that represented Hobby Lobby in the recent Supreme Court case — you may have heard about it. In particular, the article looks at the firm’s founder, Kevin J. (“Seamus”) Hassom, who seems to have brought a great deal of good nature to his work and his firm, despite the importance of that work. But there were a couple of passages in the article that caught my attention (besides, of course, the whole “He fights for religion, but is pleasant!” wonder of it all).
From the article:
Becket’s essential argument, says the Rev. Barry Lynn, a church-state separation advocate, is that more exemptions and funding for religious groups and unrestrained public prayer are positive for the United States and for religion.
“What the Becket Fund doesn’t acknowledge is that in America 2014, the tremendous overwhelming benefit of all that goes to the majority religion,” meaning Christianity, Lynn said. “You have to look at the reality of today.”
and in the next paragraph:
Last month, when the Supreme Court affirmed the right of legislative bodies to open meetings with sectarian prayer, advocacy groups representing religious minorities were nearly unanimous in their opposition. Becket celebrated the decision.
To these, my overwhelming response is a profound, “Yeah, and?” While Christianity is hardly the victim of persecution in this country that some would have us believe (which would at least have the virtue of intensifying the sincerity of professing Christians, who would have more skin in the game), neither is it unworthy of vigorous representation. Christian believers are as entitled to a vigorous defense as members of minority religions (including the Muslims and Santeria practitioners Becket has defended as well). If everyone benefits, it isn’t a bad thing that Christians are part of — even most of — the everyone. To believe otherwise is to desire the subversion of the system.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to the Fencing Bear, via Facebook.