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The Champion

January/February 2003 , Page 29 

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Right to Counsel Matters

By Kate Jones

We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.
— Robert J. McCracken

Our institutions of freedom will not survive unless they are constantly replenished by the faith that gave them birth.
— John Foster Dulles

In considering the significance of the 40th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, an essential question looms: Why do we care that every American have the right to counsel when charged with a crime? Because our justice system should be fair. Individuals must have both access to the system and fairness in the process, and the process cannot be fair if the citizen is left to fight government alone.

But this begs the question: Why? No one can pretend that America is all about fairness. Life’s not fair, goes the saying, and Americans, steeped in the whimsical nature of economic gain and loss, should be intimately familiar with that notion. For most needs — housing, health care, education

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