Public Defense: Popularizing the Sixth Amendment

In the eyes of the public, not all constitutional protections are equal. Some have flashy reputations, while others are wallflowers — until someone needs to depend on them. The First Amendment is glamorous, sometimes involving brave reporters who go to jail for their principles. The Second Amendment inspires macho action movies and defiant vows involving cold, dead hands. Americans have trouble, however, championing the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. That’s a shame, because it is among the most powerful rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. Jeff Adachi says public defenders must embark on a campaign to give the Sixth Amendment its due. He suggests several ways to get the word out, including an effort to bring stories featuring public defenders back to television screens and the creation of public service announcements and social media campaigns to educate people on their inalienable right to counsel.