I saw this on Naugle’s Twitter feed and almost stop breathing I was laughing so hard…

Naugle 6th Amendment tweet

Matt Naugle stands by it so firmly that when he first wrote this argument in a blog post three years ago, he scrubbed the post off the Internet entirely within 24 hours of posting it.  He later scrubbed the entire blog as well.

And again, Naugle is wrong to claim that the right to counsel for indigent defendants didn’t exist until the Warren Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright.  Except as I pointed out over at BSB at the time, Naugle defeated his own argument:

Then immediately after claiming the the U.S. Supreme Court in Gideon in 1963 was the beginning of the right to have counsel in state prosecutions as a federal constitutional right, Matty debunks his own argument by citing Powell v. Alabama, which was decided thirty-one years BEFORE Gideon.

What’s even more insane is that Naugle’s initial post actually argued that the U.S. Constitution does not afford the right of counsel to indigent defendants in capital cases.

Except Gideon was in prison over a capital murder case, he was in prison over a theft offense.  But Powell was a capital murder case and it found that indigent defendants in a capital murder case had a federal constitutional right to have counsel appointed to them.  That’s some twenty years BEFORE there was even a Warren Court! Here’s a few of the syllabus from the Powell decision:

5. In a capital case, where the defendant is unable to employ counsel and is incapable of making his own defense adequately because of ignorance, feeble-mindedness, illiteracy or the like, it is the duty of the court, whether requested or not, to assign counsel for him as a necessary requisite of due process of law, and that duty is not discharged by an assignment at such a time and under such circumstances as to preclude the giving of effective aid in the preparation and trial of the case. P. 71.

7. In such circumstances, the trial court has power, even in the absence of statute, to appoint an attorney for the accused, and the attorney, as an officer of the court, is bound to serve. P. 73.

It was the the Hughes Court, not the Warren Court that found a federal right to appointed counsel for indigent defendants in capital cases.  Hughes was the Chief Justice appointed by President Hoover to succeed… Chief Justice William Howard Taft.  While Gideon is an important decision, all it did was federalize what most states already required and expanded the holding in Powell to apply to a wide range of alleged crime, thus creating uniformity to the right of counsel for indigent defendants in the nation.  It did not create the right from thin air.

Even if you examined the issue from a conservative originalism jurisprudence like Justice Scalia ascribes to, you’d find that the right to counsel for indigent defendants was widely recognized in the colonies and during the Articles of Confederation.

As noted in the Appendix to Justice Black’s dissent in Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942), the right to appoint counsel for indigent defendants was widely recognized, especially in capital cases.

Matt, you’re just plain ol’ wrong.  You’re factually wrong, legally wrong, historically wrong, and morally wrong. 

No person can possibly claim to support the cause of liberty while advocating that the State has the right, under the constitution, to potentially arbitrary and unfairly deny its own citizens their liberty by taking their life in a process in which does not give citizens the right to adequately defend themselves from government action.  I cannot imagine how anyone could support such a proposition and call themselves human, let alone a freedom-loving American.

Meet Matt Naugle, the fan of the original “death panel!”

(Matt, what was the point of scrubbing the post if you keep bringing it up?)

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