Shall We Eliminate The Lawyers?
A Commentary by Atty. Deborah Stevenson
One lawyer’s opinion:
I don’t suppose we “kill all the lawyers”, as Shakespeare suggested, but we could fire a bunch of them. Either way, for our country’s sake, they really all should go.
There is nothing new in today’s headlines, for history does repeat itself. Well, in this case, at least, historical fiction may have foreshadowed present day fact. As the characters in Shakespeare’s play, Henry the Sixth, sought to remake England for the good of the common man, they lamented the evils of their time, and they may have had at least one thing right.
God save your majesty!
I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
Nay, that I mean to do.”
Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78.
While I certainly would not advocate mass murder, then, as now, the problem does appear to lie at the feet of the lawyers.
We may elect people as Congressmen and Senators whose job it is to make our laws, but, in truth, they no longer are the one who make our laws. It doesn’t matter what party is in power. It is the lawyers who staff their offices who, in reality, make the laws. The Congressmen and Senators merely accept the word of the lawyers that the law is written as it should be, and sally forth on the floor of the Congress, and in front of television cameras, to call for its adoption. This didn’t just start yesterday. It’s been going on for years, in administration after administration.
It has become clearer, however, in recent days with the media so focused on the economy and the massive spending bills begun in the Bush administration and continued in the Obama administration. Of course, keep in mind that the President’s don’t actually propose the legislation, that’s the job of Congress, and both parties are to blame there. For example, not too long ago, it was revealed that, apparently, (so he says, if he can be believed, which is highly doubtful given his conflicting statements), the Senate Chairman of the Banking Committee, Christopher Dodd, was unaware of certain language about bonuses contained in the bailout bill to AIG. Of course, this was not the most blatant example of Congress not knowing about what laws they are adopting. There also was the adoption of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That bill was touted as the President’s plan, but derided as “ghost written” by Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. The President announced the plan on January 8, 2009, and stated he “moved quickly” to work with his “economic team and leaders of both parties” on that plan. After the President consistently reported to America how urgent its passage was, only a few short weeks later, the House adopted the plan on January 28, the Senate adopted it on February 10, 2009, and the plan was signed into law by the President on February 17, 2009.
That plan was over 700 pages long, allocating $819 billion dollars to untold numbers of public and private agencies to implement untold numbers of projects. While some may say this is pure speculation, others may agree that it is pure common sense to state that neither the President, nor Nancy Pelosi, actually sat down and wrote the 700 pages of that bill. Neither did they research all of the public or private agencies designated in it nor calculated the math to allocate the $819 billion dollars divided among those agencies. How could they when they were intimately involved in the elections prior to November 2008, and just as intimately involved in transition and inauguration through January 20, 2009? A mere 8 days after inauguration, The House adopted the plan, and a mere 13 days following that, the Senate adopted it.
Well, then, if the President and Nancy Pelosi did not actually sit down to write the 700 page bill, who did? The answer is quite simple. The lawyers did. The lawyers working for the President, the lawyers working for Pelosi, and the lawyers working for all of the Congressional budget and finance committees involved wrote the bill. How many lawyers did it take to write the bill and how long did it take them? We probably won’t ever know the accurate facts in answer to that question. But we can make certain deductions based on information easily available, but little known, to the public.
It seems that there is an Office of the Chief Administrative Officer within the U.S. House of Representatives. http://cao.house.gov/index.shtml. It was created in 1995. It’s been around during both Democrat and Republican administrations. According to that office’s official website, it is charged with operations support services and business solutions to the House. That’s all well and good. It is the next phrase on the website, however, that really stands out. It says the office provides this support to the “community of 10,000 House Members, Officers, and staff…” Let me repeat that, 10,000 House Members, Officers and staff. Who are the 10,000? Well, we know that there are only 435 Congressmen in the House. That leaves 9, 565 Officers and staff. Reading through the telephone directory for the House, if you subtract, say two-thirds from the remainder certain staff such as postal, telecommunications, food service, police, parking, electrician, plumber, and shoe shine, to name but a few, that leaves 3,252 people, just in the House. Could it be that there are three thousand lawyers working just for the House, not to mention the Senate and the President? Doing the math again, dividing the three thousand staff by the 435 House members, that would be about 8 lawyers for each Congressman. Let’s be conservative. Let’s assume there are only about 4 lawyers per Congressman. The question remains, why do we need any of them?
Instead of doing as Shakespeare’s character suggests and kill all the lawyers, why don’t we just fire all the lawyers?
We did not elect lawyers to write our laws. We elected Congressmen and Senators to write our laws. In fact, the Constitution specifies, “all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” It did not add, “except there shall be four times as many lawyers who actually will write the legislation.” According to the Constitution, the Congressmen and Senators have legislative power. The lawyers have none. But that’s according to the Constitution. Apparently, it’s not according to the reality of the current situation in Washington.
Let’s think about this for a minute. The Congressmen and Senators have the responsibility and obligation to actually write all laws. Well, then, here’s a novel idea: Why don’t we just make our Congressmen and Senators do the job they were elected to do?
If we fire all the lawyers, and compel all the Congressmen and Senators to write their own bills, it’s a sure fire bet that they actually might also read them, and, lo and behold, actually know what the bills contain before they vote on them. One thing is certain, if our Congressmen and Senators actually had to write the bills, the bills would not be 700 pages long, in the case of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or a thousand pages long, in the case of the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or “GIVE” Act. And wouldn’t that be grand?
After all, our founding fathers never envisioned Congress to write devastatingly long, complex laws that only seasoned Washingtonian lawyers could comprehend, let alone apply. They did not need a thousand pages to write the Constitution, a document that establishes our entire form of government. They envisioned citizen representatives adopting well reasoned laws, simple and easily understandable by all, that could be applied in a simple and straightforward manner.
We don’t need complex laws that nine people in black robes sitting on the Supreme Court can spend their time “interpreting”. We don’t need grandiose proclamations on what our laws mean from some even more powerful and unelected lawyers whom we now call Supreme Court Justices. We just need Congressmen and Senators who understand the meaning of the Constitution, who have read the Constitution, who take their oath to the Constitution seriously, who uphold the Constitution, who vote for only those laws that are Constitutional, and who vote to repeal any and all laws that are not Constitutional. We need to keep things simple. We need to simply uphold the Constitution.
Yes, let’s get back to a simpler time. Let’s fire all the lawyers, reduce expenses and reduce exponentially the potential for misunderstanding and corruption. Let’s call for Congressmen and Senators to write their own bills, to make them simple, understandable, and in plain language, using some plain old fashioned common sense. Let’s make them uphold the Constitution and their oath of office. Let’s make them do their duty, or go back home where they belong.
Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson
Executive Director, National Home Education Legal Defense, LLC.
Practicing Education and Appellate Law
P.O. Box 704
Southbury, CT 06488
Copyright 2009, All rights reserved. Reprintable by permission.