By Harold Hutchison
As the end stages of the battle over the 2020 election commence, a new threat is emerging against those who have made efforts to ensure an honest, transparent process of counting the legal votes that were cast: professional retaliation. As of this writing, there have been at least three attempts at professional sanctions of one form or another against attorneys who have supported President Trump’s efforts, whether on the official legal team or not.
In Florida, former Democrat congressional candidate Pam Keith has attempted to have Rep. Matt Gaetz and Attorney General Ashley Moody disbarred. She has also used social media to call for signatures on petitions, securing 1,614 signatures against Moody and 17,739 signatures against Gaetz as of Monday.
Keith, a former Navy JAG, has also called for shuttering Fox News, Newsmax, OANN, and Parler on her Twitter feed, claiming they are seditious and “undermining democracy.” She also aimed a racially derogatory remark at rapper Kanye West for his support of President Trump.
She is not the only one who seems intent on punishing those who have stepped up to fight for President Trump and his 75 million voters. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) has not only launched a similar effort targeting President Trump’s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, he has asked that those members of Congress who signed on to an amicus brief supporting Texas’s suit at the Supreme Court be denied their seats. Pascrell is even calling for Trump to be tried after he leaves office.
Worse in this regard is Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has also sought professional sanctions against Sidney Powell and other attorneys, including Matthew DePerno, who secured a forensic audit of the Antrim County voting machines that produced some damning results. If you didn’t think there was something fishy about the way the 2020 election in Michigan was conducted, this should dispel all doubts.
This was in addition to the Lincoln Project organizing harassment of other attorneys who represented President Trump’s efforts to protect election integrity, driving some of them to withdraw their representation. This disturbing pattern should be seen as a serious attack on not just the norms, but the very foundation of our legal system.
Using the courts to seek legal redress has been a part of our constitutional system from day one of this Republic, and in the colonies before that, based on the system used in England for centuries before the first colonists landed and founded Jamestown. Retaliation is a significant attack, and not just on the attorneys who filed the briefs. It is also an effort to deny President Trump’s supporters meaningful access to the legal system.
To understand the nature of the attack, it might help to go through the basics of becoming a lawyer. Generally, lawyers must have a license to practice law. That license usually comes from a state’s Supreme Court and is administered by a state agency. Findlaw.com notes that law licenses usually require a college degree followed by law school. (There are alternatives.) After law school comes the bar exam, but passing that exam is not the end. There is also an investigation into your character, which can be used to deny a law license.
Complaints about misconduct are often part of an attorney’s record, kept on file by a state bar association. Dealing with an investigation through the disciplinary process can easily become a costly and time consuming effort. What Keith, Nessel and Pascrell are doing is to put the attorneys who have represented Trump, or those who have fought to ensure that only legal votes are counted, through that process.
In essence, the goal is to deter other lawyers from working on election integrity in the future. Even if they do not secure any disciplinary action, putting Gaetz, Moody, Powell and DePerno (among others) through the process is still a form of punishment, particularly if multiple complaints are filed.
Without GOP lawyers willing to specialize in this field—something that will be a necessity as attorneys like Marc Elais use litigation to sidestep the constitutional powers of state legislatures and other executives also act unilaterally—it will be virtually impossible to ensure that every legal vote is counted transparently and in accordance with the laws passed by the state legislatures. If that cannot be ensured, then it is an open question as to whether the United States of America has free and fair elections.
Harold Hutchison has nearly two decades of experience covering a variety of topics including politics, national security affairs, foreign policy, second amendment issues, and sports. His work has been published in numerous outlets, including National Review, the Daily Caller, the Patriot Post, Ammoland.com, and the Washington Examiner.