Ken Connor

In case you haven't noticed yet, the battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination has been a highly volatile, highly unpredictable roller coaster ride. With a different candidate emerging at the top of the polls week after week, it would be folly for any of them to take their chances for granted. It is no exaggeration to suggest that each and every primary election will prove critical in the quest to amass delegates for the General Convention in August.

It comes as no surprise then that Rick Perry's campaign is suing the state of Virginia for denying him a place on the primary ballot. As a southern candidate, Perry knows that he must be competitive in as many southern, conservative states as possible, and in this formulation Virginia is key. Newt Gingrich, another candidate excluded from the Virginia ballot, has joined Perry in his suit against the state.

As a trial lawyer, I can't help but marvel at the irony of this situation. More than any other Republican candidates, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have amassed a good deal of political capital by stirring up enmity against those who make their living advocating for the rights of individuals. Much like fellow Republican George W. Bush, their disdain for lawyers is legendary – especially trial lawyers. Yet just like President Bush, when the going gets tough and they feel that their rights are being trampled, they waste no time in mustering the best legal teams that money can buy.

Why the hypocrisy?

It is no secret that establishment Republicans love to demonize lawyers, since this rhetoric helps open the checkbooks of big business donors who don't like lawyers either. Big Business and Big Pharma are only too happy to support the careers of politicians willing to aid and abet corporate wrongdoing at the expense of the Constitution. You see, lawyers cut into the bottom line of high-powered special interest groups by holding them accountable for unethical, illegal behavior and malfeasance. Remember the Vioxx scandal, in which pharmaceutical company Merck failed to disclose the known hazards of the drug, or Ford's infamous Pinto debacle, or Firestone's exploding 500 Radial tires? In each case, people died as a result of companies placing profits ahead of the welfare and safety of their customers.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.