It is amazing and a little bit wonderful that the biggest corporate law firms in the country have come out solidly against the Bush Administration’s plan (being argued in the Supreme Court today, BTW) to weaken our country and strengthen bin Laden and his sympathizers by denying court review to detainees at Gitmo:
Many of the nation’s top law firms have signed briefs against the government and in support of Salim Hamdan, the detainee who allegedly served as chauffeur to Osama bin Laden and who is being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Now, I opened by saying all this was remarkable, and it is fair to say so. And, those white-shoe attorneys deserve our thanks for adding hard-to-ignore muscle to the battle to fight those forces, led by W (a/k/a, “the Weakener-in-Chief”) and his co-weakeners in all branches of government, whose hard-to-understand but plain-to-see intent is to weaken our great nation by all means possible, in this case by attacking and circumventing the legal system. But that is the glass half-full take.
More than three dozen briefs have been filed on Hamdan’s side, largely arguing that the military tribunals established by the White House to try the detainees are illegal. By contrast, only a handful of briefs have been filed on the other side, backing the administration’s expansive view of executive authority.…
The covers also carry the names of the big-ticket New York, Washington, D.C., and other national law firms that are bringing their muscle to bear, from Cravath, Swaine & Moore to Covington & Burling to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to Jones Day.
“The blue-chip firms are all in this case, and it’s the senior partners who are involved very often,” said David Remes, the Covington partner who coordinated the amicus curiae effort for Hamdan.&hellip
“This is not noblesse oblige by the big firms. It is an extraordinary no-confidence vote by the establishment bar in what the administration is trying to do here.”
[Professor Burt Neuborne of NYU Law School] said the only recent parallel was the effort 50 years ago by New York firms to help desegregate public schools.…
Neuborne too points to a long tradition of major law firms representing the unpopular.
“Wendell Willkie was representing communists and aliens in World War II,” he said, referring to the one-time presidential candidate and partner in the New York firm now known as Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
But Neuborne sees the Guantanamo effort as different, and more widespread.
“The centrist establishment bar has rallied to this as a defining issue,” he said. “The government has gone too far.”
The glass half-empty take is, “Corporate lawyers? You’ve got to be kidding me. How horrible that our nation has come to such a pass that we must rely on Cravath Swaine & Moore to defend our nation from its internal enemies in the Capitol and the Department of Justice and the White House.”