Rules for a constitutional crisis – Medium

Excellent advice on the way forward from super-lawyer Larry Lessig.

I became a lawyer because of a story told to me about Watergate, by my uncle, Richard Cates. Cates was a lawyer from Madison. When the House started investigating Nixon, he was hired to be counsel to the House Committee on Impeachment. His job was to put together the facts supporting a case against Nixon, and convince the members of the House that those facts merited impeachment. (Working for him, just out of law school: Hillary Clinton.)

In Code and other Laws of Cyberspace, I described how he described to me the job of being a lawyer:

It is what a lawyer does, what a good lawyer does, that makes this system work. It is not the bluffing, or the outrage , or the strategies and tactics. It is something much simpler than that. What a good lawyer does is tell a story that persuades. Not by hiding the truth or exciting the emotion , but using reason, through a story, to persuade. When it works, it does something to the people who experience this persuasion. Some, for the first time in their lives, see power constrained by reason. Not by votes, not by wealth, not by who someone knows?—?but by an argument that persuades. This is the magic of our system, however rare the miracles may be.

But the part of the story he told me then that I didn’t describe there connects directly with the constitutional crisis that is brewing within America just now. Because the real magic that my uncle described to me was the effect that this work done well had on politicians. Even he was almost moved by the seriousness with which both sides considered the impeachment. There was no politics, at least as he saw it. At least with him, Democrats weren’t grandstanding and Republicans weren’t flinching from the facts they were being shown. They knew that they were engaged in the most serious job a member of Congress could have?—?because they knew that in a critical sense, the very stability of the Republic depended on them behaving as adults.

Source: Rules for a constitutional crisis – Medium