Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer-fire

On NY Governor Elliot Spitzer's "links" to a recent prostitution bust, what LGM says:
# If I were in charge of writing laws, I do not believe that anyone belongs in jail for procuring or (certainly) selling sex for money, or that any criminal offense more severe than a ticket for the purchaser should be involved.

# If poor sex workers are thrown in jail under existing laws, then affluent white johns sure as hell should be too. This goes double for people who have positions that might allow them to work to repeal laws they don't feel are just

Unlike, say, David Vitter, Spitzer hasn't made a career over making one's sex life a political issue, but he has as AG broken up quite a few prostitution rings. That's hypocrisy enough for me to call him out.

2 comments:

Joe said...

I have no interest in Spitzer staying in office, but I'd hesitate to call an attorney general enforcing the law aggressively, even ones he may disagree with, hypocritical. It's the reverse of saying "defense attorneys represent criminals and are therefore bad people."

PG said...

"I'd hesitate to call an attorney general enforcing the law aggressively, even ones he may disagree with, hypocritical."

Would you consider Spitzer hypocritical if he'd engaged in insider-trading after his investigations, settlements and (rare) prosecutions of alleged violations of corporate law? I would.

Prosecutors have significant latitude in what cases they choose to pursue, which is why Spitzer is particularly reviled on Wall Street -- because he *chose* to go after cases that another attorney may not have done. I personally find it amusing that many of the same folks who loved Giuliani as a candidate hate Spitzer, but memory's a funny thing. It would be senseless to have criticized Ashcroft for his obsession with prosecuting pornographers if the U.S. AG were required to chase down every legal violation, and if there were a particular way he had to do it. There's not. Attorneys general decide how to spend their resources on investigations, prosecutions and trials.

The analogy to defense attorneys is poor, because criminal defendants have a right to counsel (I would call a defense lawyer hypocritical only if he called for someone to be tried without counsel). What exactly is the right that Spitzer upheld in breaking up prostitution rings? Spitzer didn't become a hypocrite for doing so until the moment he began patronizing the business he had previously destroyed, and reportedly done so in a fairly moralizing tone, not one of "this is the law, and you can't break the law."