When considering the rule of law, political bias shouldn’t matter — because law, by definition, is something determined by a set of facts, or at the very least by the general moral beliefs of our society as a whole. But the political bias of lawyers matters for another reason: It provides us with another way of gauging how closely intertwined law and economy really are. Would you be surprised if we said most lawyers give more money to the Democrats?
When Robert Mueller was compiling his report on potential Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility that the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump may have conspired with Russian officials to steal the election, many Republicans cried foul because some of the attorneys working with Mueller had donated to Democrats.
Maya Sen, a political scientist at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) said, “The Trump administration surrogates [have found] an argument that’s really resonated. It’s that ‘Bob Mueller can’t really be trusted with this investigation and his investigation is inherently partisan because he’s amassed a team where many more members have donated more money to Democrats.”
But as it turns out — that’s just what lawyers are most likely to do. Should that really be a reason to call out the investigative process or results of any lawyer-led report to Congress?
Sen said, “What’s interesting about it is that if Bob Mueller was throwing darts at a wall and the wall had names of elite attorneys [on it], and he was randomly choosing, he would choose a team where the people mostly donate to Democrats… According to our research, 68 percent of lawyers who’ve made any political contributions give more money to Democrats than Republicans.”
Should we start looking at political contributions as a factor when choosing lawyers? We obviously see political bias as an extremely important factor when installing Supreme Court justices. Then again, should we simply take money out of the equation by making it illegal for people in certain occupations to donate money to political campaigns? That wouldn’t do anything but make bias more invisible, but it would give us less of a reason to smear results based on political leanings, at the very least.
Sen goes on to explain that the trend toward liberal attorneys is relatively new from a historical point of view. Lawyers were conservative at least through the 70s. One of the reasons the trends changed might be the turn of the Civil Rights era. But that’s just speculation. Sen says that we really just don’t know for sure.
All we can really do is look at where the money goes.
Sen dismisses the aforementioned arguments made in the hopes of diminishing the Mueller report, though. He said, “Trump himself has given a lot of money to Democrats….Members of his family have donated in large numbers to Democrats, and members of his staff have donated in large numbers to Democrats.”
In other words, there are a lot of reasons why a person might donate to the Democrats — because even Republicans do it all the time.