“The Trump Threat Is Growing. Lawyers Must Rise to Meet This Moment.”

George Conway, Judge Luttig, and Barbara Comstock NYT oped:

Recent reporting about plans for a second Trump presidency are frightening. He would stock his administration with partisan loyalists committed to fast-tracking his agenda and sidestepping — if not circumventing altogether — existing laws and long-established legal norms. This would include appointing to high public office political appointees to rubber-stamp his plans to investigate and exact retribution against his political opponents; make federal public servants removable at will by the president himself; and invoke special powers to take unilateral action on First Amendment-protected activities, criminal justice, elections, immigration and more.

We have seen him try this before, though fortunately he was thwarted — he would say “betrayed”— by executive branch lawyers and by judges who refused to go along with his more draconian and often unlawful policies and his effort to remain in office after being cast out by voters. But should Mr. Trump return to the White House, he will arrive with a coterie of lawyers and advisers who, like him, are determined not to be thwarted again.

The Federalist Society, long the standard-bearer for the conservative legal movement, has failed to respond in this period of crisis.

That is why we need an organization of conservative lawyers committed to the foundational constitutional principles we once all agreed upon: the primacy of American democracy, the sanctity of the Constitution and the rule of law, the independence of the courts, the inviolability of elections and mutual support among those tasked with the solemn responsibility of enforcing the laws of the United States. This new organization must step up, speak out and defend these ideals.

Leaders of the legal profession should be asking themselves, “What role did we play in creating this ongoing legal emergency?” But so far, there has been no such post-mortem reflection, and none appears on the horizon. Many lawyers who served in the last administration — and many on the outside who occupy positions of influence within the conservative legal community — have instead stood largely silent, assenting to the recent assaults on America’s fragile democracy.

We were members of the Federalist Society or followed the organization early in our careers. Created in response to left-liberal domination of the courts, it served a principled role, connecting young lawyers with one another and with career opportunities, promoting constitutional scholarship and ultimately providing candidates for the federal bench and Supreme Court.

But the Federalist Society has conspicuously declined to speak out against the constitutional and other legal excesses of Mr. Trump and his administration. Most notably, it has failed to reckon with his effort to overturn the last presidential election and his continued denial that he lost that election. When White House lawyers are inventing cockamamie theories to stop the peaceful transition of power and copping pleas to avoid jail time, it’s clear we in the legal profession have come to a crisis point….

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