Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heller attorney: Enforcing civil rights not an "insult"

Letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Alan Gura, lead plaintiff's attorney in the historic Supreme Court case that overturned Washington, D.C.'s gun ban, responding to an earlier WaPo editorial:
Vindication of fundamental civil rights is not an "injury," and asking that the government be held liable for the cost of enforcing our civil rights laws is no "insult" ["Holding Up Taxpayers," editorial, Sept. 6].

Enforcement of our nation's civil rights laws depends on attracting qualified lawyers to fight government agencies with endless resources on behalf of ordinary people who cannot afford legal services.
The Supreme Court also instructs that civil rights victories in exceptional cases entitle the prevailing lawyers to enhanced fees. Our request for fee enhancement is in line with what cases involving abortion, gay rights, police misconduct and other important issues have earned the lawyers who were brave enough to back them. Would The Post feel differently if we had vindicated a right about which it were more enthusiastic, say, freedom of the press?

If the city doesn't want to pay civil rights lawyers' fees, it should obey the Constitution. Freedom isn't free.

Read Mr. Gura's letter here.

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