Lessig is clearly animated by both his subject, which he discusses at length with President Bartlett, and with being an instrument for the instigation of change in Belarus, acknowledging to Toby Ziegler that the very limited time available precludes the drafting of a functioning Constitution. His hope is merely to help instill some of the principles involved in constructing such a legal basis.
Lessig is a Harvard law professor who holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University and Yale Law School. Despite his openly liberal views, he was selected as a clerk for two prominent conservative jurists, Richard Posner and Antonin Scalia. He helped the newly independent Republic of Georgia draft a constitution in 1992. He is known as an advocate for campaign finance reform and briefly campaigned for president as a Democrat in 2015.
He is one of few real-life personalities to be portrayed on The West Wing.
- Toby Ziegler: These guys [the Belorussians] have to walk out of here on Friday with a set of laws to take back home to Minsk.
- Lawrence Lessig: Not a set of laws, a sense of the rule of law.
- Toby Ziegler: You're saying the document is irrelevant?
- Lawrence Lessig: No - I'm saying the document is just the beginning. A constitutional democracy succeeds only if the constitution reflects democratic values already alive in the citizenry.