The New York Times published an article earlier this week about sexist criticism of powerful women – in particular, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kellyanne Conway. This article followed on the heels of a disciplinary complaint filed against Kellyanne by 15 legal ethics professors, who allege that she violated the DC bar’s rule against “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”
Slate’s Steven Lubet argues that filing such a complaint creates a dangerous precedent: The complaint cites two specific false statements, the infamous “Bowling Green massacre” comment and her accusation that President Obama once ordered a refugee ban similar to Trump’s. According to Lubet, these comments – although demonstrably untrue – were made in the political sphere, where exaggeration is common, and she did not make them while working in a capacity related to the practice of law.
Lubet also points out that disciplining Conway for her comments could open the floodgates for similar complaints against other high-profile lawyers in politics, of which there are many. Even if justice is appropriately served in this case, there’s no guarantee that other such complaints won’t be addressed in a politically-motivated manner.
And frankly, in my mind there’s little doubt that this complaint is not motivated purely by a desire to maintain a high standard of truthfulness among lawyers. After all, Kellyanne isn’t even a practicing attorney – according to the filing, she’s been suspended from the bar for not paying her dues.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold her accountable for her comments, but “holding her accountable” doesn’t necessarily entail seeking some sort of punishment through whatever channels available. And although of course no one can say whether her gender played a role in the attorneys’ willingness to go after her through the bar association, we should be willing to consider whether complaints have been filed against men in similar situations.
To be clear, the only alternative facts we at Blueprint LSAT endorse are those that appear in the LSAT (you’re telling me there are jobs in which the work schedule is determined by the fact that Johnny has to work two days after Sally? Puh-lease). But we can all agree that there’s a difference between holding Kellyanne accountable for her BS, and seeking retribution against her by any means possible. And in the meantime, we at Blueprint will keep spreading the gospel about logical fallacies – given the Trumpster’s recent spelling issues, we presume that a little extra education for all can only be a good thing.