There's despicable attack ads and there there's this one, offered up by the Republican Governors Association against Vincent Sheheen, Nikki Haley's Democratic challenger in South Carolina. It attacks Sheheen for doing his job, being a criminal defense attorney. The ad is drawing fire from both the South Carolina Bar Association and the American Bar Association, which has written to RGA Chair Gov. Chris Christie demanding that the ad be withdrawn.
"A fundamental tenet of America’s justice system and Constitution is that anyone who faces loss of liberty has a right to legal counsel," wrote ABA President James R. Silkenat in a letter to Christie, who is a lawyer. "Lawyers have an ethical obligation to uphold that principle and provide zealous representation to people who otherwise would stand alone against the power and resources of the government — even to those accused or convicted of terrible crimes."Silkenat closes with an appeal to Christie that is, shall we say, ironic: "Since you are a lawyer yourself, I trust you share the ABA's concerns and hope that you join us in rejected the ad's message that undermines trust and confidence in our nation's rule of law." Appealing to Christie on the rule of law might not be the most effective approach.
Emphasizing that the ABA does not endorse political candidates, Silkenat noted that his letter does not support or oppose any candidate in the South Carolina race: "However, as leader of the nation’s largest lawyers’ organization, I am writing to express that the message the ad sends is wrong in the context of the American system of justice, and it must be rejected."