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Defending the Indefensible

Here is a letter to the St. Petersburg Times:

Sue Carlton is absolutely right to point out the importance of why those who commit the most unforgivable and horrendous acts deserve to be defended like everyone else (Why we defend the indefensible, July 27).

Surely, it can be instinct to react emotionally to heinous acts of those such as Anders Behring Breivikor and Jared Lee Loughner with calls to imprison them forever without a trial.  But for every instance where guilt seems certain, situations exist where complexity and nuance rely heavily on our core constitutional protections to safeguard the innocent from potential government overreach and baseless claims of guilt.  The founders rightly intended the burden of proof to imprison citizen’s lie with the government, based on their firsthand knowledge of what happens when there is no constraint to remake the law.

Sacred constitutional protections such as freedom of speech and due process of law are vital under severely odious circumstances. The Constitution is not something that can be selectively applied – we either believe in it or we don’t, and apply it equally in all circumstances. If we do, then the right to have an attorney and a fair trial for the most depraved criminals, and the freedom to spew vile and noxious speech, reigns supreme.  Defending the Constitution is easy when convenient, yet that defense is absolutely essential in the face of the most uncomfortable and inopportune situations.

Brad R. Schlesinger

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