Posted On: June 17, 2008 by Ronald V. Miller, Jr.

First Amendment Pro Bono Work for Someone You Detest

In June’s Anne Arundel County Barrister, a newsletter for the Anne Arundel County Bar Association, the president’s message from Saul McCormick highlights his lawyer/hero of the month, an African-American lawyer named Anthony Griffin. A volunteer lawyer for the ACLU, Mr. Griffin defended “grand dragon” of the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Michael Lowe, back in 1993 when the government subpoenaed Lowe to provide Ku Klux Klan membership lists. Griffin won the case before the Texas Supreme Court.

The article quotes Griffin saying, “If I don’t stand up and defend the Klan’s right to free speech, my right to free speech will be gone.”

Respectfully, I disagree. People’s rights are being violated all over this country. Why choose to offer free representation to someone who represents an organization you find repugnant? I agree that a judge has to make the right call and follow the law and the Constitution. But as a private citizen with a rooting interest, I’m rooting again the Klan and I wouldn’t lift a finger to help them even if I thought their First Amendment rights were being violated at $500 an hour, much less pro bono.