Today’s Headlines from Libertarian Sites
Matthew Hale is not the sort
of person most people would want to invite over for dinner. A White Supremacist
and leader of the World Church of the Creator, Hale’s views about race
are despicable. But should his views on race be enough for the Illinois
to bar Hale from practicing law in that state?
Hale graduated from law school
at Southern Illinois University in 1998 and has passed the bar exam, but
the state refuses to grant him a law license saying his racist views make
it impossible for him to meet the criteria necessary to be a lawyer. As
the Associated Press sums up Illinois’ case against Hale:
[The Illinois State] Committee [on Character and Fitness] members
said his views would prevent him from fulfilling a lawyer’s duty not to
discriminate against litigants, jurors, witnesses or others for reasons
of race, religion or national origin.
The obvious solution would
be to monitor Hale and punish him if he should actually discriminate based
on race, religion or national origin rather than judging him guilty of
such offenses based entirely on his views on race.
But do we really want lawyers
who do not discriminate or hold prejudicial views? There was a case a
couple years ago about a lawsuit against a female divorce attorney. The
attorney specialized in representing women in divorce cases and generally
turned down men who asked her to represent them. On man turned down this
way sued her for sexual discrimination.
In fact a wide variety of prominent
lawyers hold prejudicial views that, using this sort of standard, would
have to be disbarred. Is a defense lawyer who insists that cops regularly
commit perjury likely to be able to treat potential police clients fairly?
Can an atheist lawyer truly be fair minded about potentially religious
believing clients (and conversely can a Southern Baptist lawyer really
take into account the rights of atheist clients?)
Clearly what should count in
such matters is not beliefs but actions. If Hale is guilty of racial discrimination
then Illinois should be free to disbar him, but punishing him based entirely
on his beliefs sets a dangerous, intolerable precedent.
White supremacist appeals law license refusal to U.S. Supreme Court
from the Associated Press