Monday, December 29, 2008

AZ Attorneys: Sexual Orientation Could Trump Religion

arizona-color

Blazing through the tradition news grapevine today is a story of sexual orientation v. right of conscience. The Arizona State Bar is currently considering making a change to the attorney oath of office that would exclude considerations of sexual orientation. The new addition would read as follows:

"I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care."

In response to this questionable and, some say, unnecessary alteration, 31 Arizona attorneys have written letters to the State Bar President, Ed Novak. As reported at AZStarNet.com,

"Tim Casey, one of those unhappy with the proposal, said it raises all sorts of issues. At the very least, he said, the wording 'is so very vague it's scary.'"

Novak has responded to this critical speculation by assuring practicing and potential attorneys that the new addition to the oath will not require them to take on homosexual cases against their will, only to put away personal beliefs and views while attending to such cases.

Attorney Ronald Meyer countered,

"If that's the case, then the Bar's proposal is unnecessary. Meyer, one of the more senior attorneys who signed the letter, said existing ethical rules already spell out that attorneys must do their best for their clients."

[Read more at AZStarNet.]

Related Articles:

Spanish Judge Disbarred for "Homophobia"

14 comments:

Dead Seriously said...

Thanks for the clarification of what it specifically means (the paragraph "Novak responded...") for a practicing attorney. If what Novak says is true, then...Meh...but you know that if such language gets adopted, it's only a matter of time until it gets interpreted in the way the GLBT lobby would prefer (no denying cases).

Scary stuff.

Pearl said...

Sure thing. I think you're right in that what one intends is not necessarily what one will experience as a result. And, what is especially concerning is that, as Ronald Meyer explained, there are "existing ethical rules already [which] spell out that attorneys must do their best for their clients." And Tim Casey also explains that, "federal law and federal courts say it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age and similar factors. Any move to make sexual orientation one of these 'protected classes' should be decided by lawmakers or courts, not by the board of the state Bar...." Taking these explanations into account, one then naturally turns to a scrutiny of the true purpose for this change. If it is not absolutely necessary, then why the sudden desire to make this exclusion? And in the wake of Proposition 8, no less? It is very suspect, in my opinion.

Secular Heretic said...

What is the purpose of this addition to the attorney oath ?

"Novak has responded to this critical speculation by assuring practicing and potential attorneys that the new addition to the oath will not require them to take on homosexual cases against their will, only to put away personal beliefs and views while attending to such cases."

Wouldn't attorneys already set aside their personal beliefs in order to be professional about their work. They must do it all the time especially when defending an obviously guilty criminal.

Scott said...

(Dead Seriously = Scott)

If Meyer is correct (I have no reason to think he's not) that it's already "implied" by the current laws, then one could still *reasonably* argue that adding the language actually does improve things by making gray area more clear.

However, the only reason for clarifying gray area is if there is substantial reason to believe that the object of the gray area is currently being seriously misunderstood. I don't think there is much misunderstanding about what the current law means, so I think you're probably right in suggesting an alternative motive.

As to Casey's comments, well...I don't know how wonderful of an idea it is to leave these things up to courts..."in the wake of Proposition 8" as you said. I don't trust a bar association, but I certainly don't trust a court.

Pearl said...

"I don't know how wonderful of an idea it is to leave these things up to courts..."in the wake of Proposition 8" as you said. I don't trust a bar association, but I certainly don't trust a court."

Good point.

Rickety said...

I've mentioned this on other blogs: Why can't lawyers recuse themselves, just like judges?

reidbump said...

Pearl, thanks for stopping by my blog (http://yesproposition8.blogspot.com). I'm glad you referred me to yours as well. It's nice to find like-minded people out there. I think the more we can do to provide correct information the better chance we have of beating evil.

Pearl said...

Reidbump,

Most definitely. If anyone wants an easy click to his site, here it is: CALIFORNIA VOTED YES! on Proposition 8.

Euripides said...

James wrote a great article about this topic, speaking as a long-time attorney in Arizona. Here's the link.

Thanks for getting into the AZ Bar debate!

Pearl said...

Thanks Euripides, I'll be sure to check out your link. I have close relatives who are attorneys as well. It should be very telling to the lay people of this nation that Arizona attorneys are up-in-arms about this proposal. They would know better than anyone what the exclusion would entail and how it would affect them.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how some in the anti-homosexuality crowd are complaining about the "sexual orientation" part of the oath, but no one, as far as i can tell, in the anti-religion crowd is doing the same thing about the "religion" inclusion. I guess in Arizona, it's seen as more legitimate to force a anti-religion attorney to take on religion cases than it is to force a anti-homosexuality attorney to take on homosexual cases.

Pearl said...

Anonymous,

Have you heard of the ACLU? "No one, as far as i can tell," is a very narrow and, frankly, pitiful attempt to present your assumptions as fact. The ACLU wants religion out of everything: God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer out of schools, etc. And I'm sure they'd LOVE to have religion out of the oath. Opposition in all things, anonymous. That, is a bonafide fact.

Secular Heretic said...

Just read at Beetle Blogger that a judge has been sacked because he was accused of being "homophobic". This is exactly why the addition to this oath must never come about.

Pearl said...

Thanks for the head's up, Secular Heretic. It's quite disconcerting the way children are becoming the victims of a lack of reason in our societies.