response to an article with 5 10 sentence 3 questions

The New York Times “Racist Barred From Practicing Law; Free Speech Issues Raised,” by Pam Belluck

All it takes is a phone call to find out where Matthew Hale stands. You have reached the most dynamic pro-white organization on planet Earth, says the greeting on his answering machine, before launching into a 10-minute racist and anti-Semitic diatribe condemning the idea of the equality of the races as patently absurd. In large part to foster and spread these opinions, Mr. Hale, 27, from East Peoria, Ill., wants to be a lawyer. I want to be an advocate for white people in the courtroom, said Mr. Hale, who heads a white supremacist organization called the World Church of the Creator. I can’t name one attorney, for example, who is an open racist, and that’s what I am.

But because he makes no bones about his views and goals, Mr. Hale, who has completed law school and passed the state bar, has been denied a license to practice law in Illinois by a state panel that evaluates the character and fitness of prospective lawyers. Mr. Hale, according to a decision that was supported by two of the panel’s three members, is free, as the First Amendment allows, to incite as much racial hatred as he desires and to attempt to carry out his life’s mission of depriving those he dislikes of their legal rights. But in our view he cannot do this as an officer of the court, the decision said.

The decision has generated controversy in First Amendment circles and among legal experts who say they fear it could set a dangerous precedent, denying rights based on a person’s abhorred views. Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League say they worry that such a decision, allowed to stand, could lead to a slippery slope that could penalize people with unpopular opinions on issues like abortion or school prayer. . . . [On the other hand, the Illinois Bar] panel’s decision did not merely claim that Mr. Hale’s views were reprehensible, but said his active advocacy of his goals was blatantly immoral and rendered him unfit to be a lawyer. Under any civilized standards of decency, the incitement of racial hatred for the ultimate purpose of depriving selected groups of their legal rights shows a gross deficiency in moral character, particularly for lawyers who have a special responsibility to uphold the rule of law for all persons, the decision said. It added, If the civilized world had no experience with Hitler, Matthew Hale might be dismissed as a harmless ‘crackpot.’ However, history teaches a different lesson. But the opinion also seemed to indicate that the panel was wading into delicate territory. It said that in an interview with one judge on the panel, Mr. Hale had said he could uphold the state and Federal constitutions even though he disagreed with their guarantees against discrimination. The third member of the state panel supported Mr. Hale’s application, saying there was no evidence that Mr. Hale could not hold racist views and practice law in accordance with his oath. . . .

As the leader of the World Church of the Creator since 1996, Mr. Hale, who calls himself Reverend, has an office in his parents’ home where an Israeli flag serves as a doormat and swastika stickers paper the walls. He writes letters to the editor saying that all non-whites should be deported and runs the group’s Web site, which demonizes Jews and other mud races and says that Hitler had the right idea, except that he should have promoted the supremacy of all whites, not just Germans. He has been convicted on minor charges in connection with activities like burning an Israeli flag, but there is no evidence he has committed or encouraged acts of violence. Last fall, four members of the World Church of the Creator organization were indicted on hate-crime charges in the holdup of a Miami video store, accused of acting on the group’s belief that all media outlets are controlled by Jews. Another member is serving a life sentence for killing a black sailor returning from the Persian Gulf war near Jacksonville, Fla., in 1991. . . . Mr. Hale has said he advocates peaceful means and has no control of the actions of some members of the group, which was formed in 1973 and claims 7,000 members. Several experts today said they thought Mr. Hale’s rejection probably violated the First Amendment unless there was proof that his actions deprived people of constitutional rights. I wouldn’t want him to be a member of the bar, said David P. Baugh, a black lawyer in Richmond, who represented a Ku Klux Klan member charged with burning a cross. But I would defend him, and if anyone is being denied access to the profession because of their beliefs, that’s wrong.

1) Tocqueville tells us that “lawyers consequently form the highest political class and the most cultivated portion of society.” How would Tocqueville feel about Mr. Hale’s admission to the Bar?

2) Now, how do you feel about Mr. Hale’s admission to the Bar? Which do you think is more compelling: Mr. Hale’s First Amendment right to speak freely in the forum of his choice (Hale’s personal liberty)? Or, the Illinois Bar’s contention that “particularly . . . lawyers . . . have a special responsibility to uphold the rule of law for all persons.”

3) Should lawyers have higher ethics and standards than the public at large? Why or why not?

 

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