“[W]e all agree that any First Amendment defense raised by President Trump’s attorney would be legally frivolous.”
This questionable statement was asserted in a letter released earlier this month by 144 “constitutional law scholars” to shoot down a defense they expected former GOP President Donald J. Trump to raise during his impeachment hearing.
The “scholars” letter was a thinly veiled warning to Trump’s legal counsel that if they assert a First Amendment offense on behalf of Trump, they will be subject to court sanctions for violating ethical conduct rules for attorneys.
It is the latest assault on Trump by left-leaning attorneys who use the law as a bludgeon to achieve political goals.
Last fall, a group of attorneys and law students engaged in a thuggish (and highly successful) effort to intimidate lawyers at big and small law firms to drop Trump as a client.
Former Judge James Troupis, who represented Trump in December in an election challenge in Wisconsin, said he took the case because no one else would. “We have to acknowledge the court system has been deeply intimidated by the left, just as the lawyers have been intimidated. That is a sad, sad state of affairs,” said Troupis.
At present, bar associations are challenging the law licenses of Trump attorneys, claiming they violated ethical conduct rules by representing Trump’s challenge to the 2020 Presidential election.
Perhaps the most cynical abuse of legal process in U.S. history?
“Total intellectual dishonesty,” said Trump attorney Michael Van Der Veen at the impeachment hearing on Friday. He said the “constitutional law professors” argument that the First Amendment protects Trump is “not anywhere close to frivolous.”
Van Der Veen said the professors ignored two binding landmark U.S. Supreme Court opinions that give elected officials enhanced protection under the First Amendment and protect “exactly the type of speech Trump engaged in.”
Van Der Veen said the professors’ were attempting to intimidate Trump’s legal team. “It was a direct threat to my law license, my career and my family’s financial well being … These law professors should be ashamed of themselves and so should the house managers. How dare you.”
“How dare you!” – Atty. Michael Van Der Veen.
Van Der Veen called the letter “a bully tactic… the evidence is the House managers know they have a problem with the First Amendment defense on the merits so they are resorting to this tactic. They would have Mr. Trump sitting here without lawyers and who would be next? It could be anyone.”
Van Der Veer cited the following U.S. Supreme Court cases:
The Court ruled in Wood v. Georgia, 370 U.S. 375 (1962), overturned the conviction of a county sheriff in Georgia for criticizing local judges for ordering a grand jury investigation into possible vote buying of black voters. The Court it was a violation of the First Amendment because “[t]he petitioner [Wood] was an elected official and had the right to enter the field of political controversy, particularly where his political life was at stake.”
The Supreme Court’s decision in Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116 (1966) , 385 U.S. 116 (1966) — that legislators do not forfeit their constitutional rights to speak out on public issues — reaffirmed the principle that the First Amendment protects controversial political speech, even speech critical of the country’s war effort.
The lawyers’ code of responsibility states a lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous… ”
Signatories of the letter include Floyd Abrams, Steven G. Calabresi, Charles Fried, Laurence Tribe, Richard Primus and Martha L. Minow.