Lawyers for the Left

sub-heading:
In the Courts, in the Streets and on the Air

"An informative and inspirational insight into the minds and spirits of some of the most incredible servants of the people ever produced in this country."

- Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice-presidential candidate
₹1,499.54

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 270 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682191958
  • E-book ISBN 9781682191965

about the book

Lawyers regularly take the lead in polls as the most unpopular of all professions, ahead, even, of bankers and journalists. But the lawyers featured in this book are different. The stories they tell and the cases they fought are admirable and often inspiring. They devoted their careers to representing victims of injustice rather than the rich and the privileged. Their clients included Martin Luther King and Angela Davis, the prisoners in the infamous massacre at Attica, people who suffered torture, police abuse, mass arrests, and segregation. They held the system to its promises of freedom of speech and assembly, the right to privacy, and equal justice for all, often exposing the ultimate incompatibility of democracy with capitalism.

Combining profiles with engaging interviews, Lawyers for the Left will be of interest to progressives inside the legal profession, as well as a wider left increasingly aware that legal challenges are important in putting the brakes on an administration veering sharply to the right. It will also disabuse those who believe that God only invented lawyers so that politicians would have someone to look down upon.

Lawyers profiled include: Charles Abourezk, Myron Beldock, Leonard Boudin, Haywood Burns, Bruce Wright, Ramsey Clark, Rhonda Copelon, Bill Goodman, Abdeen Jabara, Conrad Lynn, William Kunstler, Jim Lafferty, Holly Maguigan, Michael Ratner, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Bill Schaap, Lynne Stewart, Jan Susler, Michael Tigar, Leonard Weinglass, Peter Weiss, Mel Wulf, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Victor Rabinowitz.

"The lawyers in this book valiantly fought the erosion of justice and assault on the U.S. court system that has ended with the judiciary becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. If we had heeded their warnings, and honored their courage, we might still have a judiciary where the citizen at least had a chance." - Chris Hedges

"Michael Smith reminds us of the long tradition of movement lawyering and the critical role it's played in helping advance justice as a tool for people's liberation. The legal giants profiled are not just lawyers, they are activists in their own right". - Natasha Lycia Ora Babban, former president, National Lawyers Guild.

About The Author / Editor

Michael Steven Smith is an attorney, a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the cohost of the nationally broadcast radio show Law and Disorder. He is the co-author, with Michael Ratner, of Who Killed Che?

Read An Excerpt

From the Introduction

What Is Law?

Though the challenges leftist lawyers face today are great, they are not unprecedented. And we can learn much from radical lawyers of the past. Martin Luther King's courageous attorney William Kunstler and Federal District Judge Jack Weinstein both received awards from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 1994. But each had a very different view of the law. In his acceptance speech, Kunstler said that he thought Judge Weinstein believed that law was "that considered response of a civilized society to the problem of reaching a reasoned conclusion to disputes between the state and its citizens and among the latter themselves. Whatever its shortcomings, they are patently aberrational and remediable". Kunstler believed this was the liberal's view of the law.

Kunstler's own view was different. He said that the law, "in fundamental essence, is nothing more than a method of control created by a socio-economic system determined, at all costs, to perpetuate itself by all and any means necessary, for as long as possible". When asked about democratic rights, Kunstler's friend, the late and deeply respected attorney Leonard Weinglass, said he did not believe, ultimately, that capitalism and democracy were compatible. We are seeing the consequences of this contradiction unfold at an accelerated pace.

Lawyers for the Left take an activist and oppositional, albeit auxiliary, role. We recognize that great movements of the people "from below" are fundamental to social change. And the need to protect our democratic right to speak out, educate, organize, associate, and demonstrate is more crucial than ever, as the Bill of Rights is increasingly threatened. We use our legal training to carve out a space for, defend the legitimacy of, and give legal expression to the fundamentally political movements for social transformation. On a more mundane level, we provide legal services and hence some possibility of justice to individuals who would otherwise have to suffer.

What Can We Learn from Left Lawyers of the '40s and '60s?

in the media

Lawyers for the Left

sub-heading:
In the Courts, in the Streets and on the Air

"An informative and inspirational insight into the minds and spirits of some of the most incredible servants of the people ever produced in this country."

- Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice-presidential candidate
₹1,499.54

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the book

Lawyers regularly take the lead in polls as the most unpopular of all professions, ahead, even, of bankers and journalists. But the lawyers featured in this book are different. The stories they tell and the cases they fought are admirable and often inspiring. They devoted their careers to representing victims of injustice rather than the rich and the privileged. Their clients included Martin Luther King and Angela Davis, the prisoners in the infamous massacre at Attica, people who suffered torture, police abuse, mass arrests, and segregation. They held the system to its promises of freedom of speech and assembly, the right to privacy, and equal justice for all, often exposing the ultimate incompatibility of democracy with capitalism.

Combining profiles with engaging interviews, Lawyers for the Left will be of interest to progressives inside the legal profession, as well as a wider left increasingly aware that legal challenges are important in putting the brakes on an administration veering sharply to the right. It will also disabuse those who believe that God only invented lawyers so that politicians would have someone to look down upon.

Lawyers profiled include: Charles Abourezk, Myron Beldock, Leonard Boudin, Haywood Burns, Bruce Wright, Ramsey Clark, Rhonda Copelon, Bill Goodman, Abdeen Jabara, Conrad Lynn, William Kunstler, Jim Lafferty, Holly Maguigan, Michael Ratner, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Bill Schaap, Lynne Stewart, Jan Susler, Michael Tigar, Leonard Weinglass, Peter Weiss, Mel Wulf, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Victor Rabinowitz.

"The lawyers in this book valiantly fought the erosion of justice and assault on the U.S. court system that has ended with the judiciary becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. If we had heeded their warnings, and honored their courage, we might still have a judiciary where the citizen at least had a chance." - Chris Hedges

"Michael Smith reminds us of the long tradition of movement lawyering and the critical role it's played in helping advance justice as a tool for people's liberation. The legal giants profiled are not just lawyers, they are activists in their own right". - Natasha Lycia Ora Babban, former president, National Lawyers Guild.

About The Author / Editor

Michael Steven Smith is an attorney, a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the cohost of the nationally broadcast radio show Law and Disorder. He is the co-author, with Michael Ratner, of Who Killed Che?

Read An Excerpt

From the Introduction

What Is Law?

Though the challenges leftist lawyers face today are great, they are not unprecedented. And we can learn much from radical lawyers of the past. Martin Luther King's courageous attorney William Kunstler and Federal District Judge Jack Weinstein both received awards from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 1994. But each had a very different view of the law. In his acceptance speech, Kunstler said that he thought Judge Weinstein believed that law was "that considered response of a civilized society to the problem of reaching a reasoned conclusion to disputes between the state and its citizens and among the latter themselves. Whatever its shortcomings, they are patently aberrational and remediable". Kunstler believed this was the liberal's view of the law.

Kunstler's own view was different. He said that the law, "in fundamental essence, is nothing more than a method of control created by a socio-economic system determined, at all costs, to perpetuate itself by all and any means necessary, for as long as possible". When asked about democratic rights, Kunstler's friend, the late and deeply respected attorney Leonard Weinglass, said he did not believe, ultimately, that capitalism and democracy were compatible. We are seeing the consequences of this contradiction unfold at an accelerated pace.

Lawyers for the Left take an activist and oppositional, albeit auxiliary, role. We recognize that great movements of the people "from below" are fundamental to social change. And the need to protect our democratic right to speak out, educate, organize, associate, and demonstrate is more crucial than ever, as the Bill of Rights is increasingly threatened. We use our legal training to carve out a space for, defend the legitimacy of, and give legal expression to the fundamentally political movements for social transformation. On a more mundane level, we provide legal services and hence some possibility of justice to individuals who would otherwise have to suffer.

What Can We Learn from Left Lawyers of the '40s and '60s?

in the media