ARCP Forty-Seventh Edition Preface: Sally Q. Yates & Andrew J. Bruck
Institutions Worth Protecting: Safeguarding Our Legal Institutions By Building Bipartisan Consensus For Reform
For the last eighteen months, the American people have watched their president routinely attack our legal institutions and the public servants who inhabit them. The criminal justice system, President Trump said, is a “joke” and a “laughingstock.” Footnote #1 content: Linda Qiu, Trump Calls Terrorism Trial Process ‘a Joke,’ Despite Hundreds of Convictions, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 2, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/us/politics/fact-check-trump-terror-convictions. html [https://nyti.ms/2z8EY9O]. Judges who rule against him or his policies have had their work dismissed as “ridiculous,” Footnote #2 content: Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), TWITTER (Feb. 4, 2017, 5:12 AM), https://twitter.com/real DonaldTrump/status/827867311054974976 [https://perma.cc/7R9Z-ARDA]. “terrible,” Footnote #3 content: Matt Zapotosky et al., Federal Judge in Hawaii Freezes President Trump’s New Entry Ban,WASH. POST, Mar. 16, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/lawyers-face-off-on-trump-travelban-in-md-court-wednesday-morning/2017/03/14/b2d24636-090c-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html [http://perma.cc/9JNR-HYSZ]. “political,” Footnote #4 content: Matt Zapotosky & Robert Barnes, Trump Suggests Only Politics Could Lead Court to Rule Against his Immigration Order,WASH.POST, Feb. 8, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/ in-their-courtrooms-theyre-protected-by-people-like-me-dhs-secretary-weighs-in-on-legal-disputeover-trump-ban/2017/02/07/5e37fc4e-ed4e-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html [https://perma.cc/SU 8K-Y3VR]. and “a total disgrace;” Footnote #5 content: Jose A. DelReal & Katie Zezima, Trump’s Personal, Racially Tinged Attacks on Federal Judge Alarm Legal Experts,WASH.POST, June 1, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2016/06/01/437 ccae6-280b-11e6-a3c4-0724e8e24f3f_story.html [https://perma.cc/9EAN-NTX6]. one judge was accused of bias because of his race. Footnote #6 content: Brent Kendall, Trump Says Judge’s Mexican Heritage Presents ‘Absolute Conflict,’ WALL ST. J. (Jun. 3, 2016), https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-keeps-up-attacks-on-judge-gonzalo-curiel-14649114 42 [https://perma.cc/557K-2X5Y]. The nation’s premier federal law enforcement agency has been described as “really, really disgraceful,” Footnote #7 content: Anne Gearan & Devlin Barrett, Trump Calls Conduct at the FBI ‘Disgraceful’ in Latest Criticism of Bureau,WASH.POST, Dec. 15, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-callsconduct-at-fbi-disgraceful-before-appearing-at-quantico/2017/12/15/4f4a4fae-e1a7-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37 492a_story.html [http://perma.cc/G9A8-5L8E]. its reputation in “tatters” and its former director a liar and a “leaker.” Footnote #8 content: Julie Hirschfeld Davis & Glenn Thrush, Calling Comey a Liar, Trump Says He Will Testify Under Oath, N.Y. TIMES, June 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/us/politics/trump-comey.html [https:// nyti.ms/2s3yl78]. The President has called for a suspect to face the death penalty less than twenty-four hours after the crime occurred; Footnote #9 content: Peter Baker, Trump Declares Suspect ‘Should Get Death Penalty,’ N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 1, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/us/politics/trump-new-york-attack-schumer-visa.html [https://nyti. ms/2iR3gkn]. he has discouraged police officers from being “too nice” to the people they arrest; Footnote #10 content: Brian Rosenthal, Police Criticize Trump for Urging Officers Not to Be ‘Too Nice’ with Suspects, N.Y. TIMES, July 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/nyregion/trump-police-too-nice.html [https://nyti.ms/2hcaDSp]. and he has continued to assert the guilt of individuals long after they have been exonerated. Footnote #11 content: Benjy Sarlin, Donald Trump Says Central Park Five Are Guilty, Despite DNA Evidence, NBC NEWS, Oct. 7, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-says-central-park-fiveare-guilty-despite-dna-n661941 [https://perma.cc/RLY9-NL4E]. His first exercise of the Pardon Power was, tellingly, for a sheriff who systematically violated the constitutional rights of Latinos and then disregarded court orders telling him to stop. Footnote #12 content: Megan Cassidy et al., President Donald Trump Pardons Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, AZCENTRAL. COM, Aug. 25, 2017, https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/08/25/donald-trump-pardonssheriff-joe-arpaio/599835001/ [https://perma.cc/3X5D-3MRU].
Cynical as they may be, these actions and statements do more than hurt morale within law enforcement. They do real damage to our system of justice. Our country’s legal institutions are only as strong as the public’s confidence in them, and each attack from the commander-in-chief chips away at that trust. These broadsides have opened the rhetorical space for those aligned with the President to amplify and supplement his words with criticisms of their own, further sowing distrust and normalizing political attacks on institutions that once enjoyed bipartisan support. Footnote #13 content: Sharon LaFraniere et al., Trump’s Unparalleled War on a Pillar of Society: Law Enforcement, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 3, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/us/politics/trump-fbi-justice.html [https://nyti. ms/2GLTKXd]; Ryan J. Reilly, The ‘Law and Order’ Party Has Unleashed an Extraordinary Attack on Law Enforcement,HUFFINGTON POST, Jan. 29, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fbi-attack-trumpmueller-republicans_us_5a6b3fe7e4b0ddb658c5c3fd [https://perma.cc/7SQD-MVHX].
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