The Republican Party Seems Down On The Constitutional Right To Counsel

A GOP ad attacked Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for previous work as a defense lawyer.

WASHINGTON ― On the eve of the vice presidential debate, the Republican National Committee unveiled an attack ad against Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), for his past as a criminal defense attorney.

It’s as scary as these ads come ― and reminiscent of other times the GOP has tried similar tactics.

“Long before Tim Kaine was in office, he consistently protected the worst kinds of people,” says a voiceover actor who tries to sound as ominous as those you hear in Hollywood movie trailers.

The tweet promoting the ad goes on to say that “America deserves better” than someone who defends those people.

But the ad launch didn’t go smoothly, and Twitter users who know better about the guaranteed right to effective assistance of counsel went to town on what they rightly perceived not as an attack on Kaine, but the Constitution. 

One noted criminal defense attorney took such offense to the GOP’s promotion of the Kaine ad that his response could be deemed offensive in its own right.

Needless to say, it’s unfortunate that members of a party that says it stands for constitutional values ― and has mounted an unprecedented blockade of a Supreme Court nominee because they want a nominee who reflects them ― would go down this road.

Factor in a state like Louisiana, which, under a Republican governor, left its public defender system on the brink of collapse, and it’s a wonder why an accused person’s right to an attorney has now been reduced to a punchline in a political ad.

Indeed, America deserves better.