DANIEL VAUGHAN: Shredding Legal Norms Over Trump Won't End With Him

 February 23, 2024

Gutting norms and traditions under the guise of "this is a special case" may help rationalize what you do, but it doesn't fix the fallout. The $355 million fraud verdict against Donald Trump is a case in point. It's a circumstance where those who brought it are trying to keep their actions contained while everyone else is disturbed.

In his ruling, the judge found Trump guilty of "fraudulently inflating the value of [his] assets, misleading banks and insurers." The curious thing about the case and the New York Attorney General's position is that no one involved claims to have been harmed. Everyone involved with the transaction walked away happy.

I'm pointing this out because New York Governor Kathy Hochul is doing interviews to reassure business owners the state won't target them like this. New York businesses are concerned, "If they can do that to the former president, they can do that to anybody."

Hochul said in an interview, "I think that this is really an extraordinary, unusual circumstance that the law-abiding and rule-following New Yorkers who are business people have nothing to worry about, because they're very different than Donald Trump and his behavior."

Kevin O'Leary, one of the businessmen making noise about this, rejects this premise. He said in an interview, "Forget about Trump, every single real estate developer everywhere on Earth does this. They always talk about their asset being worth a lot and the bank says no. That's just the way it is," he stated. "If you're going to sue this case and win, you've got to sue every real estate developer everywhere."

The truth is, we know New York won't do this. Attorney General Letitia James campaigned on going after Trump. She chose her target and attacked until something landed. What Hochul said is true in the sense that she won't have the law used like this, in a general sense, against everyone. But if you're a Republican on the other side, these assurances don't count.

We have a similar situation at the Supreme Court where Democrats are trying to remove Trump from the ballot through an insane reading of the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court appears poised to strike that down, and one of the points they raised was that this crazy reading of the 14th Amendment could be used by other states and partisans to remove any politician from the ballot. The Justices didn't name anyone, but the subtext was clear: what's stopping anyone from removing Biden from the ballot?

Again, we're told by Democrats that Trump is a super unique situation, and they need to bend the law to its breaking point to get rid of him. They then want you to believe that this won't be used that way again.

Who believes that?

The ratchet on these legal devices works in one direction. Democrats blew up judicial norms decades ago and pretended to be shocked when Republicans returned the favor, reshaping the judiciary in the process. The Trump impeachments were supposed to be distinct, and we've already seen impeachments under the Biden administration.

Pandora's box doesn't stay closed just because you claim it will. Watching left-wing cable news is like watching an infomercial for "this one weird legal trick will remove Donald Trump from politics forever!" Conservative judicial experts have jokingly called this #ResistanceLaw.

Trump will appeal the fraud verdict, so we'll see where this goes. But the continuation by the Democratic Party of choosing bizarre readings of law to achieve blatantly political ends will not end with Trump. Groups like "Cowboys for Trump" were kicked off the ballot under the same legal theory.

And that ultimately is the problem. We're not dealing with a special case. It'd be one thing if Congress passed legislation to handle specific situations they never wanted to happen again. An example is Congress passing the Electoral Vote Reform Act in 2022. This legislation aims to prevent some of the January 6, 2021, events by clarifying the rules around electors.

That was a sound action taken to deal with a specific thing. Instead, we're getting #ResistanceLaw, which is inventing novel readings of the Constitution to try and attack partisans. Meanwhile, no one on that side believes if they win, that law could be used against them.

This belief is called the privilege of holding power. It's not the rule of law. The state may not target you unless you have views that don't match what they want. If that's the case, it's a fishing expedition to rip you apart legally.

Either we're in an era where many "special cases" are happening, or partisans are trying to justify why they're ripping apart a long list of norms. Given the legal arguments being thrown out, it's looking more and more like a group of people trying to justify their reasons for ripping apart core pieces of the country.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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