Thursday, May 18, 2006

The nation relies on law students?

I was listening to NPR's coverage of the Michael Hayden confirmation hearings. Sen. Feinstein (D-Cal.) asked him about the Fourth Amendment's probable cause requirement. To which he responded that he'd spoken to relatives - who were in law school - about the subject. Not that he'd consulted with proper lawyers, or judges, or law professors - but with relatives (I assume a niece or something) who were in law school.

Now. I took four criminal procedure classes in law school. My clerkship was all criminal law. I've worked on a major white collar criminal case. I'm a practicing attorney. And in spite of all that, I would not feel comfortable giving advice to the head of a government agency about the full contours of the Fourth Amendment. When I look back at just how absolutely clueless I was in law school (and I had good grades) compared to how I am now as an attorney, it terrifies me that we have heads of agencies turning to law students for advice on just how that agency can and cannot violate the constitutional rights of citizens.

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