Siccing the Disciplinary Dogs on Andrew Shirvell, Esq.
November 02, 2010, 07:27 PM
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From Above the Law I learn that the openly gay president of the Michigan student body, Chris Armstrong, is seeking bar discipline against Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general who's been put on leave for criticizing Armstrong. According to Armstrong's attorney, one Deborah Gordon, Shirvell's anti-gay stance makes him "immature" and unfit to practice law. Above the Law doesn't mention specific violations of the ethics code, but would it matter if there were? [It's About Time: Disciplinary Action Sought Against Andrew Shirvell By Elie Mystal, 29 Oct 2010 at 5:09 PM]

Shirvell, of course, is being targeted for his politically incorrect crusade against Armstrong, who complains in turn that he's being "bullied" by Shirvell. This is a curious claim, since 1) the student body elected him president, 2) the media is clearly on his side, on up to gay defender Anderson Cooper of CNN, 3) Shirvell has been disowned by his boss, the attorney general - and put on (or pressured to take) leave, as I mentioned, 4) the University of Michigan is about as hostile to homosexuality as San Francisco and 5) Mr. Armstrong's apparently got the resources to hire the likes of Deborah Gordon, who despite having worked for the EEOC doesn't see fit to hiring any male attorneys for her firm.

Who's the bully, again?

Anyway, this is all bad idea jeans. Fighting your opponent in the court of public opinion is one thing, but stripping his livelihood because you don't like his politics is flat-out scary and un-American. An immigration restrictionist and attorney I know warns that this will be an increasing tactic of the left: get politically incorrect attorneys disciplined, disbarred, or prevented from being admitted to practice to begin with. Already, those in the academy have asked, "does racism make one unfit to practice law?" [PDF]

The message the left wants to send to the bar and would-be bar is that if you stray from political correctness, you run the risk of losing your professional calling. As bare knuckle politics go, it's an effective tactic: not only do you destroy dissidents personally, you undermine their entire cause by preventing them from advancing it in the courts. But there's nothing remotely principled about it.

All those who should be roaring in opposition to this — the organized bar and the law professors — can be expected to remain silent, since they take the side of the Deborah Gordons of the profession.

But lawyers love a good fight, if nothing else. Shirvell should fight back, and I bet he finds someone to help.