Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lisa, Don't Take a Dive

When boxers, jockeys, or other athletes let themselves be beaten, they are labeled as crooked. What should we call a lawyer who gives up on a case she could win?

Lisa Madigan is the Attorney General of Illinois. Her job, according to her website, is to represent “the People.” Lisa claims to fulfill the obligation that the law places on her to look beyond representing the “parochial interests of State agencies and governmental units to what is the greater good and the more significant interest.”

Why, then, isn't she trying to uphold the Illinois law that bans carrying concealed weapons?

One popular theory is that she doesn't want to alienate downstate voters by taking a strong anti-gun stance, because it might jeopardize her chances of being elected governor if she decides to run. She isn't likely to be doing that, because if she did she would be placing her own political ambitions above the interests of her clients, which might well be seen as a violation of the code of ethics that governs her and all other attorneys. It would also be a pretty risky political strategy, because she would alienate the majority of voters, who don't want people carrying concealed weapons. Maybe she figures that people will vote for her even if she betrays the cause of gun violence prevention.

Another theory is that Lisa is avoiding taking a stand on gun violence simply because she avoids taking stands on all controversial issues. Her website boasts of her efforts to protect senior citizens from being taken advantage of, women and children from being abused, the environment from being degraded, and her work on other issues with which hardly anyone would argue. It doesn't look like she sticks her neck out often. For example, with all the political corruption in Illinois, why is it that the U.S. Attorney has such a long list of successes in prosecuting politicians and she doesn't seem to have a list at all?

Some people theorize that Lisa hasn't appealed the case that threw out Illinois' gun law because she is afraid of losing the case in the Supreme Court. But she has already lost the case in the federal court. If she loses the appeal, we are in the same position we are in now. There isn't anything left to lose. On the other hand, if she appeals, she can turn her loss into a win. It shouldn't be too hard a case to win, either. The federal court decision that she would be appealing is contrary to every other federal court decision on the topic of concealed carry. Since the day that the Illinois decision was announced by the 7th Circuit of the federal court, two other federal courts have taken notice of the Illinois decision and have ignored it. It's pretty clear that the Illinois decision is regarded by other federal courts as wrong, and that the Supreme Court would reverse it.

Lisa hasn't said why she isn't appealing. She won't even admit that she isn't appealing. She's pretending that she is just waiting for the legislature to act. But if the legislature acts, she won't be able to appeal. Lisa is bobbing and weaving, but she isn't throwing any punches. She's just pretending to be fighting for the People. It's not a very convincing performance.

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