As we touched on last week, the Sixth Amendment protects not just a right to counsel but a right to the effective assistance of counsel.
In the 21st century, this means at least three things. First, the government can’t take away your life or liberty without a legal defense. Second, if you can’t afford a lawyer, the government must provide one for you. Third, the lawyer must be able to mount an effective defense, not just a defense in name only. It may not carry the day in your case, and it may not be the best defense money can buy. But it can’t just be a warm body sitting next to you in court. It must be a defense that acts as a check on what the government is trying to do to you.
Otherwise, what’s the point?