Re: Cully Stimson’s Comments

by Jonathan H. Adler

I have a somewhat different take than Cliff on the flap over Cully Stimson’s remarks and his eventual resignation.  For a government attorney to suggest that law firms should suffer consequences for representing detainees is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the codes of professional responsibility to which attorneys commit themselves.  The bar, as a whole, has a well-established obligation to try and ensure that all people have access to representation.  This means that all individuals, even suspected terrorists, are entitled to retain a capable legal defense when subjected to judicial process, and it is wrong to impugn attorneys on the basis of the clients they represent. (Whether detainees should receive the amount of process some are demanding is a separate question.)

It is dismaying for me to hear arguments to the contrary from the Right because these sorts of blame-the-attorney-for-the-nature-of-his-client are so often deployed against conservatives and Republican appointees. This is one reason, among others, that Ted Olson and Charles Fried were among Stimson’s prominent critics.

I don’t know whether Stimson should have resigned, but his initial comments were wrong and should have been repudiated by both Right and Left from the outset.  For those interested in more on this subject, I wrote several posts on this subject on The Volokh Conspiracy.  My posts, along with one by Eugene Volokh, are chained here .

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