Abolish the Sixth Amendment!

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted a new Republican Governors Association ad being run in South Carolina against Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen under the headline: “Most Negative Political Ad Ever?” and suggested it set “a new standard for nasty.” I’d say it sets a new standard for immoral cynicism.

You’d think the “constitutional conservatives” of the Republican Party might be aware there’s an item in the Bill of Rights–the Sixth Amendment to be precise–that guarantees those accused of criminal acts the right to “the assistance of counsel.” A really deep-thinking constitutional conservative might even understand that we don’t know who the “criminals” are until they are given a fair trial. In an especially despicable little twist, the anonymous narrator of this ad twice notes that Sheheen was paid for defending “violent criminals who abused women.” Would it have been better if he had represented them for free?

I hope someone immediately asks the intended beneficiary of this toxic piece of agitprop, SC Governor Nikki Haley, if she thinks we should just repeal the Sixth Amendment, and maybe take everyone accused of a crime and set ’em on fire right there at the point of arrest.

Trouble is, she might say “Sure!”

RGA Chair Chris Christie ultimately needs to be held accountable for this crap. I’d love to hear him–an attorney–try to justify an attack on the Right to Counsel.

Washington Monthly - Donate Today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.