Lawyers Need to Preach and Teach the Bill of Rights


Too many lawyers pay cursory lip service to the Bill of Rights, those pesky amendments to the Constitution that form the basis of our liberty. Understanding the historical perspective about why the Bill of Rights was a necessary limitation on government is critical to effective advocacy. It is especially helpful to link government conduct that is violative of these essential rights to the historical abuses that led to the creation of that right.

Legislatures, prosecutors, and judges will always rail against crime and will find ways to get around the protection of the Constitution. They seek out, carve out, and create exceptions to the rule, or suggest that the rule is inapplicable. They will roll their eyes at attempts to bring the historical underpinnings of the protections into the present circumstances. Yet, all of us have been trained in constitutional principles. We know and they know that the Constitution is not self-enforcing. And, as repugnant as the practical outcome of enforcing the protections may be to some, the protection of these rights is at the core of democracy. It is at the core of our liberty.

Dedicated criminal defense attorneys are the premier enforcers of the Bill of Rights. They will not be protected, they will not be enforced, and they will not be honored without us.