ABA Criticizes Political "Scapegoating" of Lawyers and Judges
New York Lawyer
July 22, 2004
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The American Bar Association is asking Republicans and Democrats to stop using lawyers and judges as "convenient scapegoats to scare the public.''
"We recognize that campaign debate may involve our court systems, judges or the legal profession,'' ABA president Dennis W. Archer said in a letter Tuesday to the chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties.
"For the role of lawyers and judges to be addressed in those debates is natural. For it to happen in a manner that demonizes a profession steeped in the traditions of public service is unnecessary, unproductive and offensive,'' Archer wrote.
The nonpartisan ABA, based in Chicago, has more than 400,000 members and provides accreditation for law schools, programs for lawyers and judges, and other services. More than 1 million lawyers work in the United States, it says.
Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards have received millions in campaign contributions from lawyers. Republicans and lobbying organizations have criticized Edwards, who earned millions as a trial attorney before turning to politics, for his ties to the legal profession from the day Kerry selected him as his running mate.
Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, previously was a prosecutor and lawyer in private practice.
On Monday while campaigning in Missouri, Vice President Dick Cheney said Kerry and Edwards have opposed changes to the medical malpractice insurance system because they are too close to trial lawyers. President Bush often refers to "activist judges'' when he criticizes gay marriage and other initiatives that have received judicial backing.
"Because of the gravity of the issues confronting voters, we hope the major parties -- the world's preeminent political institutions -- will agree to focus on a discussion of those issues and not resort to name-calling and finger-pointing or use convenient scapegoats to scare the public,'' Archer wrote.
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