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Letter to editor re Legal Services Corporation, Barrister Magazine (1996)

Just found this old letter I had published in the ABA’s Young Lawyer division magazine, Barrister (now Young Lawyer), from 1996. I was reminded when I saw this scan of nancy 1996 from a fellow lawyer about it (to right). Coincidentally, I met and became friends years later with Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez through my involvement with the MultiLaw group.

For a related letter, see my post about “The Enlightened Bar.”

Stephan Kinsella, Esq.
66 Bridle Way · Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073 · USA
(215) 751-2157 (work) · (215) 972-7362 (fax) · (610) 325-3360 (home) · kinsella@shsl.com (internet)

January 11, 1996

Diana L. Moro, Editor-in-Chief
Barrister Magazine
Young Lawyers Division
American Bar Association
750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Re:       Letter to editor in response to Raquel Rodriguez’s “Chairperson’s Column” in the Winter 1996 issue of Barrister Magazine

Dear Ms. Moro:

Please consider the following for publication as a letter-to-the-editor in Barrister Magazine.

Raquel A. Rodriguez suggests, in her Winter 1996 “Chairperson’s Column,” that lawyers should support federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which provides legal services to the poor. Ms. Rodriguez states that this “is not a partisan issue” and implies that all reasonable attorneys “agree on the importance of keeping LSC alive.”

Ms. Rodriguez has a right to her own opinion concerning LSC, but so do others who oppose LSC. I reject her attempt to paint anyone opposing LSC as being outside the mainstream and as therefore wrong. If it is reasonable for Ms. Rodriguez and others to support forced “charity,” despite America’s strong individualist, anti-statist origins, then certainly attorneys that still adhere to the classical liberal wisdom of the Founders can also reasonably oppose socialist policies. Lawyers having a principled opposition to statism and institutionalized aggression against property rights should not be excluded from the realm of reasonable discourse, especially not in the land that gave birth to the Declaration of Independence.

What Ms. Rodriguez is recommending is that attorneys urge Congress to enact laws to forcibly take the property of citizens and redistribute this confiscated property to others. To some this smacks of mob rule and organized theft, which is certainly not something that a supporter of the rule of law should encourage.

And in addition to the ethical (de)merits of programs like the LSC, I am unable to find authority in the U.S. Constitution for Congress to create or fund the LSC. The LSC is clearly unconstitutional, whether one likes it or not, whether the Supreme Court recognizes this or not. As lawyers, and, indeed, as citizens, we have a moral and civic duty to support and defend the Constitution. Indeed, lawyers take a solemn oath to support the Constitution. This duty seems completely forgotten by many lawyers today who agitate for blatantly unconstitutional laws. I would urge that attorneys keep in mind their Constitutional responsibilities and not advocate organized theft or other unconstitutional laws. Far better to encourage respect for individual rights and for the Constitution.

Very truly yours,

Stephan Kinsella


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