Constitutional Originalism Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Business - Law Type: Essay Paper: #26759420 Related Topics: Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional, Constitutional Law, Persuasive Letter
Excerpt from Essay :

Wainwright v Gideon

In 1961, a man named Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested for stealing coins and alcohol from a Panama City, Florida, pool hall. He was a poor man and could not afford a lawyer. Following his conviction, he served five years in prison. During that time, he sent a handwritten letter to the Supreme Court in which he explained that he had been forced to fend for himself in court, without legal representation. Because of Mr. Gideon, the Supreme Court justices declared that criminal defendants have a right to legal aid (Gest). It was a right decision by the Supreme Court. The United States was founded on the principle that all men should be equal. By providing criminal defense to the poor, the court is leveling the playing field so that everyone receives the same fair treatment. Since crimes are committed disproportionately by the poor, the Supreme Court's decision ensures that those who cannot afford a lawyer still have representation. The decision is not always popular with the public, especially when someone particularly heinous is involved, such as those responsible for the attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001. Even though the law is not always popular, however, it is still right.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees someone the right to counsel if he or she is charged with a crime for which there is a potential prison sentence. According to the Sixth Amendment Center, an organization dedicated to ensuring people get counsel, almost anyone stands the risk of going to jail when charged with a crime if there is not an effective lawyer to help. "The majority of people do not know, for example, what is and is not admissible in a court of law, let alone how to procedurally convince twelve jurors that they are innocent" ("The Right to Counsel"). It is wrong to break the law, but sometimes circumstances lead some people to commit crimes. People who have fallen on hard times, or who have not had much

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It would be wrong to compound the problem further by denying proper legal defense because they could not afford it. Perhaps, in some cases, if they had enough money and education, they may not have committed crimes in the first place.

The way that the use of illegal drugs is treated is an example of the differences between the middle and upper classes and the poor with respect to the law. As stated in an article for Nation:

"Drugs are intensively criminalized among the poor but largely unregulated among the rich. The pot, coke and ecstasy that enliven college dorms, soothe the middle-class time bind and ignite the octane of capitalism on Wall Street are unimpeded by the street sweep, the prison cell, and the parole-mandated urine tests that are routine in poor neighborhoods" (Western 13).

Another example of the way the law is not applied fairly is with respect to race. Research shows that whites and blacks have had different historical experiences within the criminal justice system (Staples). African-Americans, until fairly recently in the nation's history, have had considerably fewer opportunities. People who are poor and without much education sometimes resort to criminal activity, sometimes to get things they want and sometimes to express their anger and frustration about life. Again, poverty and lack of…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Donaghue, Erin. "Defending Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Renowned Attorney Judy Clarke Will Fight for Bombing Suspect's Life." CBS News. 2 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 7 May 2013 from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57582573-504083/defending- dzhokhar-tsarnaev-renowned-attorney-judy-clarke-will-fight-for-bombing-suspects-life/

Gest, Ted. "One Poor Man's Legacy." U.S. News & World Report 114.11 (1993): n. pag. Web. 7 May 2013.

"The Right to Counsel." Sixth Amendment Center. N.p., 2013. Web. 07 May 2013. <http://sixthamendment.org/the-right-to-counsel/>.

Staples, Robert. "White Power, Black Crime, and Racial Politics." Black Scholar 41.4 (2011): 31-41. Web. 7 May 2013.


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