ARCP Forty-Sixth Edition Preface: Abbe Smith

by Abbe Smith

Criminal Justice—or Any Justice at all—Under Trump

If Charles Dickens were alive today, he might have written one of the most famous opening lines in English literature with no sense of irony. Instead of “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” the first few words of A Tale of Two Cities might have read:

It was the worst of times, the absolute worst of times. It was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Darkness, it was the winter of despair. We had nothing before us . . . . Footnote #1 content: With apologies to CHARLES DICKENS, A TALE OF TWO CITIES 1 (1859).  

That is how I feel at the close of the first one hundred days of the Trump administration, one of the rockiest and most tumultuous starts ever to a new administration. We now have a president who “tweets” in response to every perceived slight Footnote #2 content: Aasif Mandvi, The Trump Tweets I Want to Read, N.Y. TIMES (Dec. 3, 2016), [] (noting that Trump “lashes out at the smallest perceived slight with ferocity, while praise of any kind is so intoxicating to him that he is blind to where that praise comes from”). and then exhorts Congress not to engage in “trivial fights.” Footnote #3 content: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Michael D. Shear & Peter Baker, Trump, in Optimistic Address, Asks Congress to End ‘Trivial Fights,’ N.Y. TIMES (Feb. 28, 2017), []. We have detained hundreds of rigorously vetted and properly authorized tourists and immigrants at airports for hours—and disrupted the travel plans of tens of thousands more. Footnote #4 content: Glenn Kessler, Fact Checker: The Number of People Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: About 90,000,WASH. POST (Jan. 30, 2017), .eb71e1ce36f4 [] (reporting that 90,000 travelers were affected overall by Trump’s January travel ban); Michael D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish & Alan Feuer, Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide, N.Y. TIMES (Jan. 28, 2017), [] (reporting about the chaos at American airports caused by Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim countries in January). One after another Trump associate has been revealed to have had contact with Russians connected to Vladimir Putin at a time when, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, Mr. Putin was trying to steer the election in favor of Trump. Footnote #5 content: Scott Shane & Andrew E. Kramer, Trump Team’s Links to Russia Crisscross in Washington, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 3, 2017), [] (noting that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a member of his national security team J.D. Gordon, former lawyer Jason Greenblatt, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and recently confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions all had contact with Russians during the election). Since assuming office, the new leader of the free world has waged perpetual war on intelligence agencies, Muslim immigrants, the federal judiciary, protesters, Barack Obama, Mexico, Australia, alleged voter fraud, and, above all, the media. Footnote #6 content: Tim Wu, How Donald Trump Wins by Losing, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 3, 2017), []. Taking a page from George Orwell, Trump’s war is apparently “not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.” Footnote #7 content: Id. Taking another page from Orwell, there is little truth in Trumpville, only “alternative facts.” Footnote #8 content: See Travis M. Andrews, Sales of Orwell’s ‘1984’ Spike After Kellyanne Conway’s ‘AlternativeFacts,’ WASH. POST (Jan. 25, 2017), .5cd5dc2989ca []; Sari Horwitz, Law Professors File Misconduct Complaint Against Kellyanne Conway,WASH. POST (Feb. 23, 2017), [] (reporting that 15 law professors filed an ethics complaint against White House Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, for “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” because of a false claim that there had been a “massacre” in Bowling Green, Kentucky and other statements).

Continue reading the 46th Preface.