I first became aware of the problem during the Reagan years. The President, realizing he couldn’t end programs he disliked because of a Congress willing to engage him. It was a situation the President couldn’t win and he couldn’t sway enough of the public so that they could pressure the Congresspeople to support the destruction of those programs.
But Reagan could dismantle those programs in other ways. He’d appoint someone to head the program or Department who disliked the program as much as he and they would relegate the program to a secondary position. Chang in personnel to the most incompetent, making sure that appointment to the Department or program was not a career advancement, limiting funds for that program, the disliked program or Department suffered a slow death. An example of the ‘anti-nomination’ was James Watt, who Reagan appointed as Head of the Department of the Interior*. That Department has still not recovered from the abuse and neglect that Watt caused both actual and philosophical.
What became clear to politicians was that there are other ways besides repeal of ending a controversial program. One of the most damaging areas of this tactic has been applied to jurisprudence which mandate of providing representation to any indigent defendant has always been tested. Those opponents of the Sixth Amendment** have no problem with perverting the law by offering incompetent counsel, in many cases it is like no lawyer at all.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? No lawyer for the poor, plenty of representation for the rich. And when you can’t subvert by offering incompetence then you overload those working in the system so that they don’t have adequate time to investigate and then prepare a defense. It’s like no lawyer all over again.
“Although some suggest private lawyers should volunteer or be appointed to take on these cases, the Louisiana State Bar Association passed a resolution objecting. They outlined ethical problems to courts appointing lawyers without criminal experience to represent indigent defendants and further challenged the constitutionality of courts forcing private attorneys to provide uncompensated services for those whom the State should be providing representation.”
“Volunteer lawyers are also hard to find because those who take up the work of public defenders are not provided malpractice coverage, will likely never be paid, are responsible for their client’s files for 10 years, and are held to high standards in representation.”
“In Judge Hunter’s case one New Orleans prosecutor accused private lawyers of being anarchists because they asked for release of people facing trial until the lawyers can get reimbursed for their costs and overhead, as the Louisiana Supreme Court has demanded since 1993. In reaction to Judge Hunter’s ruling the prosecutor’s office did not discuss the constitutional issues but said they disagree and plan to appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”
“Judge Hunter concluded his ruling with these words. “The defendants’ constitutional rights are not contingent upon budget demands, waiting lists, and the failure of the legislature to adequately fund indigent defense….We are not faced with a fundamental question, not only in New Orleans, but across Louisiana: What kind of criminal justice system do we want? One based on fairness or injustice, equality of prejudice, efficiency or chaos, right or wrong?”
“Realistically, the problem is getting worse soon because the Louisiana Public Defender, which last year handled more than 241,000 cases, is facing a 66 percent reduction in funding beginning in several months, a drop from $33 million to $12 million.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/no-lawyers-no-jail-judge_b_9649764.html
*”In 1980, President-elect Reagan nominated Watt as his Secretary of the Interior. The United States Senate subsequently confirmed the nomination.
His tenure as Secretary of the Interior was controversial, primarily because he was perceived as being hostile to environmentalism, and endorsed development of federal lands by foresting and ranching, and for other commercial interests.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Watt had the record, among those who served as Secretary of the Interior, of listing the fewest number of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The record was later surpassed by Dirk Kempthorne, a George W. Bush appointee who, as of August 27, 2007 [dated info], had not listed a single species in the 15-month period since his confirmation.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt
**”A criminal defendant’s right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the “assistance of counsel” for the accused “in all criminal prosecutions.” This means that a defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney during trial. It also means that if the defendant cannot afford an attorney, in almost all instances the government will appoint one to handle the case, at no cost to the defendant.” – http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/the-right-to-counsel.html