Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium
The centuries-old protections of the attorney-client privilege
are at the heart of any citizen's relationship with his lawyer and,
thus, at the heart of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Attorney General Mukasey has acknowledged, "Absent privilege, the
right to counsel is nearly meaningless." Nonetheless, for
almost a decade the Department of Justice has been issuing repeated
policies undermining the privilege and the attorney-client
Ostensibly to "fix" these problems, the Justice Department now
proposes its fifth major policy in less than ten years. But
things have gone too far for an internal solution. The
Department's decade of varying coercive policies and practices has
spawned similar policies throughout the federal government.
Thus, even if the Department's next policy were to hold privilege
protections sacrosanct, its reform would do nothing to the policies
of other federal agencies - or to bind the Department's policies
during the next presidential administration.
A lasting solution is needed. Legislation can fix the
damage that the Department has caused to these essential
protections. Senator Arlen Specter's Attorney-Client
Privilege Protection Act passed the House unanimously with broad
bipartisan support but has not moved in the Senate Judiciary
Committee. Conservatives and liberals alike should consider
the intrusion of government into yet another bedrock liberty and
whether legislation is now necessary.
More About the Speakers
The Honorable Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Senate Judiciary Committee
Edwin Meese III
Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus