Kumar Plays Pretend on Obama’s Marijuana Record »« Funny Game Show Answers

Pacific Justice Institute Goes on a Witchhunt

The Pacific Justice Institute is quite upset that the Obama administration decided to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court and they’ve launched a crusade to punish career attorneys at the DOJ for daring to follow the instructions of their bosses. And they’ve got nearly everything about this wrong:

The United States Justice Department has the duty of defending lawsuits filed against the “United States” —against “We the People.” Like all other lawyers, the attorneys of the USDOJ owe their clients the duties of loyalty, confidentiality, and zealous representation.

No, they don’t have such a duty. The DOJ is unique among federal agencies in that it performs multiple roles simultaneously. Yes, it usually represents the federal government when it is sued, but it doesn’t have any legal obligation to do so. But as an executive agency, it also files briefs in cases on behalf of the president’s position in those cases. And there have been many cases in which the DOJ has chosen not to defend a law being challenged in court because the president thinks that law is unconstitutional. The Obama administration made that choice in regard to DOMA and now the law is being defended by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, arranged by the House.

But the PJI is claiming that the DOJ attorneys, most of them careerists rather than political appointees, have violated ethics by “switching sides” in the case. And they’re filing complaints against every one of them with their bar associations in order to have them punished for it.

The Pacific Justice Institute is taking action to give the American people a voice in defense of DOMA. We are filing official complaints with the state bars and disciplinary boards of every jurisdiction where these government lawyers are licensed.

They’re making a very bad analogy to an attorney in a criminal case.

This scenario would be unthinkable in any other case. What these lawyers are essentially doing is leaving the table for the defendant, walking across the courtroom, and sitting down next to plaintiff’s counsel. The lawyers would be lucky not to get disbarred for flagrantly violating their duties of loyalty, confidentiality, and zealous representation. Yet, because it is the DOJ, and the client is the United States, they don’t believe the same rules apply to them. They think they can get away with this and no one will care.

But they’re right, the same rules do not apply here. This is not a criminal case and the government is not on trial. They’re pretending that “the United States” is a client being represented, but it’s not. They are representing the position of the executive branch, which is something the DOJ has to do every day. These complaints will be dismissed in a heartbeat when they’re filed, as they should be.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    These complaints will be dismissed in a heartbeat when they’re filed, as they should be.

    And how much will those Justice Department attorneys be out of pocket for that successful defense?

  2. tubi says

    Can PJI be punished in some way for harassment of a government official? I don’t know whom they’re accountable to, but surely people can’t just go around filing baseless complaints.

  3. Chiroptera says

    It’s called “seperation of powers,” people, and it was stressed in my grade school that this is part of the “beauty” of the American system. That one branch passes laws and another, independent branch enforces them was always promoted as “checks and balances.”

    What these folks need to do is start advocating a parliamentary system where the Government serves at the pleasure of the Legislature.

    On the other hand, without a strong central authority figure, I suspect these people would have no idea how a government is supposed to work.

  4. Chiroptera says

    The lawyers would be lucky not to get disbarred for flagrantly violating their duties of loyalty, confidentiality, and zealous representation.

    Yeah, because if there is one thing that the extreme Right has always been know for, it’s support for the zealous representation of criminal defendents by trial lawyers!

  5. Michael Heath says

    This organization’s page claims they fight for religious freedom, however the Wikipedia page on them proves quite the opposite is true. That they file briefs in support of the government promoting Christianity which infringes on the rights of individuals.

  6. steve84 says

    >”What these folks need to do is start advocating a parliamentary system where the Government serves at the pleasure of the Legislature.”

    In parliamentary systems it tends to work the other way around. Parts of the legislature suing the government if they think some law is unconstitutional. This is the norm because the government is usually run by the majority party (though a minority party being tolerated by others can happen too).

    But the government can also sue if they have doubts about some law that was passed against its will. Generally, any part of the system can sue any other – within certain rules of course. So the end result is pretty much the same.

  7. Subtract Hominem says

    The United States Justice Department has the duty of defending lawsuits filed against the “United States” —against “We the People.”

    I’m getting really sick of hyperpatriots using “We the People” to refer to the American citizenry at every possible opportunity. Especially when it happens to be more grammatically correct to use “Us the People.”

  8. says

    While a violation of ethics can occur by following your client’s wishes (subornation of perjury, for example), advancing the client’s position, even if you think it is wrong, is not an ethical lapse. As Ed notes, as part of the executive branch, the DOJ’s client is the POTUS, not “We The People”. These charges, if actually filed, are frivolous and whether there are any sanctions will depend on state law. No doubt, if filed, the government will pay for any defense costs. There are also possible Federal action against these nuts on the basis of an attempt to intimidate Federal employees in the discharge of their duties.

  9. matty1 says

    In parliamentary systems it tends to work the other way around. Parts of the legislature suing the government if they think some law is unconstitutional.

    I’m curious which parliamentary systems you are thinking of, I’ve never heard of a British government being sued by the opposition over a law and there is arguably no such thing as an unconstitutional Act of Parliament in the British system.

  10. skinnercitycyclist says

    Especially when it happens to be more grammatically correct to use “Us the People.”

    thank you thank you thank you. I want to marry you and have your babies. The persistent ungrammatical use of this phrase renders it the talking point of a fatuous parrot with no idea of how to generalize a concept.

  11. steve84 says

    @matty1
    For example, it happens in Germany now and then, which has a court that deals specifically with constitutional law (and separate highest courts for criminal law).

    It’s true that most English-speaking countries are based on the British system, but there are countries with other setups too.

    And Great Britain itself is a special case since it doesn’t have a codified constitution. So a law indeed can’t be unconstitutional.

  12. TCC says

    People are seriously arguing that “We the People” is ungrammatical? Jesus H. Christ, someone needs to check their pedantry for a second.

    For one, it cannot be inherently ungrammatical; “we” and “us” are merely the 1st person plural subjective and objective cases (respectively), and so it would depend on how it is used. In the initial sentence of the Constitution, for instance, it is absolutely grammatical and would be incorrect as “Us the People.” But more importantly, it’s my suspicion that “We the People” functions as a distinct lexical unit (a noun phrase), such that it would ruin the rhetorical effect to change case as would otherwise be necessary with the pronoun alone.

    At worst, it’s an example of poor style, but it’s not ungrammatical, IMO.

  13. laurentweppe says

    I’m curious which parliamentary systems you are thinking of, I’ve never heard of a British government being sued by the opposition over a law and there is arguably no such thing as an unconstitutional Act of Parliament in the British system.

    You can in the french system: the opposition can call the constitutional concil if they think that a law passed by the majority is unconstitutional. Of course, it’s not “suing the covernment”: just demanding the withdrawal of a law.

  14. oranje says

    @TCC: I completely agree, especially when “WtP” is in quotes. It is acting as a distinct, and rather pandering, single noun unit rather than one that can be flexible in subjective/objective case depending on situation.

    It also sounds like a sovereign citizen claim when it’s used so much, so there’s that.

  15. baal says

    @#1 d.c.sessions – “We are filing official complaints with the state bars and disciplinary boards of every jurisdiction where these government lawyers are licensed.”

    It shouldn’t cost anything. The various State ethics boards do internal reviews on the complaints before contacting the target attorney. Unless the complaints have a facial violation of the ethics rules (which are peculiar and particular), it stops there. That’s the usual case with most complaints. The complainers here are ideological and not founded on law so I don’t see them going anywhere and I doubt the target attorneys would hear anything.

  16. Chris from Europe says

    @matty1
    You can do that in the German system. See the news about the idiots challenging the constitutionality of the ESM because the ECB is starting to move in a sensible direction.

Leave a Reply