Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Watch the doughnut, not the hole

Mark Joseph Stern makes an excellent point:

Now the Liberty Counsel has filed an angry, rambling application to the Supreme Court that is little more than an anti-Obergefell rant dressed up as a legal document. The fact that Davis’ lawyers couldn’t tone down the animus for long enough to pen the application is distressing but not surprising. More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

To fully understand his point, you should know Ms. Davis' lawyers have actively advised her to defy the court's orders.  That is what we lawyers call "unethical," a word that means you probably shouldn't be practicing law and, at a minimum, should have your license to practice in federal court revoked.*

No one wants to think of Kim Davis as a victim.  She has humiliated individuals; her personal life has been splashed across the internet; her husband has responded belligerently to death threats (no surprise, actually; I'd do the same for my wife, except I'd have to buy the gun first.).  She hasn't done much to deserve our sympathy.  And, you will say, she's walking into this with her eyes open:

“I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God. I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a heaven or hell decision.”
She may be sincere in her belief, but she's being taken for a ride by her lawyers.  I could see that, and all I know of this case is from news reports.  I haven't read any of the pleadings, but just what gets reported made it clear to me the lawyers in this case were political, not legal.  They shouldn't be allowed into a court of law; and now it appears they are actively putting their client at risk.  It is perfectly clear they have never pursued this case for their client's interests, but only for their own.

She'll be the one paying the fines and going to jail (if it comes to that).  Sure, maybe they can crowd source the fines (for a while); but nobody can go to jail for Ms. Davis.

This does not make her innocent; but she is being misled, and abused.  Our internet ire should land on her lawyers, more so than it does on her.  She will eventually fade from our attention.

The all but anonymous lawyers will move on to their next victim.

*not the same as losing your license to practice law.  Federal courts require application and licensure before you can appear before them, a "license" the Federal court can revoke.  They don't like people playing games in their system, and they don't have to put up with it.  Lawyers can lose their ability to go to federal court, but can still practice in states where they are admitted to the state bar.  If that doesn't happen to these lawyers, it still should.  Their actions are indefensible.

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