IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING: At a time when press and social media are flooded with loud opinions, we believe there must be a thoughtful, fact-based accounting of threats to the rule of law. If you see examples of this, please send us an email at submissions@lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org.

Your submission should include a copy to or link to source material, a brief explanation of why and how the example threatens the rule of law, and instructions on how we should refer to you in your post. Once we’ve reviewed and approved your submissions, we’ll post them on our website and share them on social media. Thank you.

Los Angeles Times: Trump’s war on the rule of law

As discussed in this column from the LA Times, it is hard to imagine a more dangerous assault on the rule of law than Donald Trump’s use of the pardon power to reward and galvanize political supporters. In his hands, what was a rarely used remedy for injustice is becoming a refuge for outlaws.
Click here to read the article >>

LDAD’s Letter to Congress

October 16, 2019 – In late September, LDAD’s Congressional Outreach Committee delivered a letter to the offices of more than 200 Congress-people who themselves are lawyers. The same letter was also delivered to key staffers for the Senate and House of Representatives “Gang of Eight”, to the Chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, House Oversight Committee, Senate Government Operations Committee, and to each of their subcommittees’ Chairs. 

We have received and are waiting on additional responses. Still our work is not done. To help with Congressional Outreach, please feel free to customize the letter linked below or email us at hello@lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org.
Click here to read the Letter to Congress >>

Regarding the White House Letter in Response to the Impeachment Inquiry

October 8, 2019 As lawyers with decades of experience in litigation and government, this letter may be the most unprofessional document we’ve ever seen. Congress should ignore it. The author’s position is reprehensible.
Click here to read the White House’s Letter in full >>

Anchorage Daily News – LDAD Steering Committee Member Lisa Weissler: “Alaska’s U.S. Senators Must Defend the Constitution”

September 24, 2019 – In America’s system of government, laws are only as good as those willing to uphold them. When governmental institutions fail to enforce the law equitably or violate their statutory and constitutional mandates without consequence, the system crumbles. One of the greatest institutional failures we face today is the U.S. Senate’s abandonment of its duty to serve as a check on President Donald Trump’s disregard for the Constitution and the laws that govern our society.
Click here to read her Opinion >>

LAW.COM: Legal Heavyweights Call Out Bar Associations to Respond to Trump Mistruths

September 13, 2019 – Representatives of hundreds of attorneys, law firm partners, scholars and  judges who raised alarm in February over what they called the abandonment of the rule of law by the Trump administration have released another call to the legal community to speak out against attacks on truth and justice.

Linda Greenhouse via The New York Times: A ‘Train Wreck’ Was Averted at the Supreme Court, but for How Long?

July 18, 2019 – Linda Greenhouse was absolutely right about the Constitutional near miss that occurred in the census case last week. How long will the ABA keep silent?”
Click here to read her Opinion >>

Boston College Law School Magazine – LDAD Steering Committee Member John Montgomery decries President’s Contempt for the Rule of Law

Summer Edition 2019 – John T. Montgomery ’75, former First Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and retired managing partner at Ropes & Gray, was among more than 200 attorneys, including several others with ties to BC Law, who stepped forward April 25 to defend American democracy and the rule of law.
Click here to read the full article >>

Harvard Magazine – LDAD Chair Scott Harshbarger Urges “The Center Must Hold”

Summer Edition 2019 – Scott Harshbarger, LL.B. ’68 writes, “Joining with several Harvard Law and College classmates in the fall of 2018, we formed Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD), hoping to mobilize our legal profession colleagues and leaders in a nonpartisan effort to defend the rule of law and our core legal principles against the systematic assault by President Trump – and his leadership enables – to weaken, erode, and corrupt these institutional constraints that serve as the foundation for democracy. In February, we released our Open Letter articulating five core legal/democracy principles regularly being violated by the President with impunity, and we invited our colleagues to sign on publicly. Our objective is to get law school, law firm, and bar association leaders to stand and deliver to protect and defend these principles so that ‘things do not fall apart!’ ‘The Center must hold.’

The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School: After the Mueller Report: The AG, White House, and Congress–A Constitutional Crisis?

By: James F. McHugh
Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, believes that President Trump’s recent suggestion that he might accept a foreign government’s derogatory information about one of his political opponents without telling the FBI was truly dangerous. During a panel discussion last month at Boston College Law School’s Rappaport Center for Law & Public Policy, Figliuzzi said that the President’s statement likely “lit up switchboards around the world” and set up a huge vulnerability that undoubtedly will be tested during the next election season. Testing of that sort has happened before, according to Figliuzzi. What is vastly different now is the advertised level of receptivity to foreign advances. 

Figliuzzi was joined on the panel by Chuck Rosenberg, former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Texas who also is a former Chief of Staff to FBI director James Comey, by Joyce Vance, a professor at the University of Alabama Law School and former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and by Michael Sullivan former United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and the former director of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Their lively, hour-long discussion focused on the Mueller Report and can be found here.

All four agreed that the Report laid out clear evidence that the Russian government had engaged in “sweeping and systematic” interference in the 2016 election. That interference was not so much designed to assist the campaign of now President Trump as it was to disrupt the electoral process and create mistrust about the accuracy of its results. The panelists generally agreed that mistrust of that kind can have profound and lasting results that range from immediate mistrust about who won a specific election to enormous downstream problems if it turns out that a particular interference effort actually did alter an election result.

When the conversation turned to obstruction of justice, which is covered in the second half of the Report, the panelists agreed that a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel policy memorandum prohibited charging a sitting President with obstruction or any other crime while he or she remains in office. Sullivan thought it was improper for Mueller to investigate an issue that he had no power to prosecute. The others disagreed but believed that the OLC policy was appropriate because allowing prosecutions of the sitting President while in office would have a hugely adverse impact on his ability to carry out his or her official responsibilities. 

All four panelists were in general agreement that the Mueller report was both thorough and thoughtfully done. Sullivan, however, said that reading the report was for him like watching a two-hour movie and agreeing with everything but the last two minutes. While fully satisfied with the report, Figliuzzi thought that a stand-alone 400-page report did not serve the public well in the age of Twitter when so many people have become accustomed to receiving information in short, highly digestible, packets devoid of nuance and detail.

The panel discussion and ensuing audience questions reflected a substantial concern about how the well the rule of law is faring in  the controversies that surround us today. Both Rosenberg and Vance forcefully articulated their belief that members of the bar and non-lawyers who were keenly aware of that rule’s importance had to take the lead in conversations about acts and omissions of governmental officials that seemed to ignore the rule of law’s central role in preserving American democracy. Most forcefully, Vance said that silence on the issue from the American Bar Association was “shameful,” for it has a moral constitutional voice and should be wholly unafraid to use it. 

Beyond its immediate focus on the Mueller report, the discussion was another call for action by the legal profession and its leaders at a time when the rule of law is facing daily threats. In a calm and deliberate fashion, the thoughtful panelists traded sometimes conflicting views but united on the importance of the fact-based narrative and conclusions the Report contains. They united as well on the leadership lawyers must display in ensuring that fact-based assessments of attacks on our democratic system and the rule of law are not overwhelmed by those for whom the rule of law is simply a set of inconvenient barriers in the path to predetermined ends.    

Via The Wall Street Journal: Accusing the New York Times of ‘Treason,’ Trump Crosses a Line

June 19, 2019 – The Wall Street Journal hosts New York Times publisher A.G. Sultzberger’s direct and powerful response to the President’s unacceptably dangerous use of the “treason” label use to criticize a Times news report. 
Click here to read the full article >>

Rep. Jamie Raskin Supports and Submits LDAD’s Open Letter and Appendix into the Congressional Record

May 9, 2019 – “Madam Speaker, while the nation has been focused on Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and questions of presidential obstruction of justice, President Donald Trump’s violation of fundamental principles and norms of American democracy have been far more comprehensive.”
Click here to read the full Congressional Record >>

Montana Standard: Bound by the chains of the Constitution

May 9, 2019 – All lawyers and others interested in preservation of the Rule of Law should be actively involved in preserving the “Constitutional chains” discussed by Retired Justice James C. Nelson.
Click here to read the full essay >>

Via Medium: Statement by Former Federal Prosecutors

May 6, 2019 – Powerfully supporting the Rule of Law, 450 ex federal prosecutors from Republican and Democratic administrations found in the Mueller report “overwhelming evidence” that Pres. Trump “with corrupt intent” “obstructed or attempted to obstruct” Mueller’s “truth-finding process.
Click here to read the full statement >>

Press Release: Prominent Attorneys Recognize “Law Day” By Calling on Lawyers to Fight for Democracy

BOSTON – In 1958, President Eisenhower, facing Russian threats to American democracy, declared May 1 would henceforth be known as “Law Day,” a day to honor and celebrate the Rule of Law. Today, facing threats to democracy at home, Lawyers Defending American Democracy – a bipartisan, national coalition of attorneys, many of them leaders in the profession – called upon all lawyers to shine a spotlight on President Trump for violating fundamental, non-partisan principles and norms of American democracy.
Click here to read our full press release >>

ThinkTech Hawaii: Lawyers Defending American Democracy

April 30, 2019 – Lawyers Defending American Democracy Co-Founder, Scott Harshbarger and Steering Committee member, Eugene Fidell discuss the origins and mission of the organization with ThinkTech Hawaii host, Jay Fidell.
Watch the full interview here >>

U.S. Department of Justice: The Mueller Report, With Redactions

April 18, 2019 – Attorney General William Barr has released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to Congress and the public. Lawyers have a special responsibility to contribute to the public understanding in times like these. We encourage our colleagues to read the report and engage in that discussion.
Click here to read the 400 page report >>

Boston College Law Review: Former Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Robert Cordy argues for an independent and strong judiciary and press

April 15, 2019 – As Robert Cordy demonstrates, a vibrant democracy needs both a strong and independent judiciary and a free and independent press. But the freedom and independence of both is particularly important in an era when they are under relentless assaults from the Nation’s Chief Executive.
Click here to read the essay >>

NECN: ‘Lawyers Defending American Democracy’ Decry Trump’s Disregard for Law

February 28, 2019 – John Montgomery, former managing partner, Ropes and Gray, and Fernande R.V. Duffly, former justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, join Sue to talk about the non-partisan group they have formed called “Lawyers Defending American Democracy.” They discuss their concerns about the erosion of the rule of law under President Donald Trump and what they hope Congress plans to do.
Watch the full interview here >>

The National Law Journal Shines Light on LDAD’s National Movement

February 22, 2019 – More than 200 lawyers have formed a new legal advocacy group challenging what they call the erosion of the rule of law under the presidency of Donald Trump.

“We, as lawyers, cannot ignore or remain silent about President Donald Trump’s disregard of these core values and principles. We must speak out,” the lawyers wrote in an open letter that was distributed Thursday.
Click here to read the full article >>

CNN Politics Features LDAD’s Official Launch

February 20, 2019 – More than 200 lawyers have formed a new legal advocacy group challenging what they call the erosion of the rule of law under the presidency of Donald Trump.

A newly formed group of lawyers is pushing the nonpartisan legal community — including members of Congress — to call out what they say is President Donald Trump’s continued abuse of constitutional, political and democratic values and norms.
Click here to read the full article >>