Open Letter to American Lawyers
More than a year ago, many of you signed a Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD) Open Letter to the President and Congress calling on the President to respect and honor the fundamental principles and norms of American democracy. (A copy is available at https://lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org/statements/) The letter was prompted by President Trump’s continuing disregard of the core norms and values that are essential to the functioning of our system of government.
Since that letter issued, disregard for those norms and values has worsened as we have witnessed this administration’s voter suppression, contempt of Congress, misuse of appropriated funds, tolerance of Russian interference in presidential elections, retaliation against whistleblowers, use of the Attorney General as the President’s personal lawyer, the enrichment of Trump and his family, the encouragement of race-based divisions among the American people, and the attempt to convert the Supreme Court into little more than a supra-legislative body by rushing through an appointment on the basis of political views. The list is depressingly long and reflects a belief that power is everything and that compromise and restraint are dirty words.
In addition to this long list, we are faced with the startling refusal of the President and Vice President to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if they lose the election. Speaking from the White House not long ago, Trump said: “There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” He has repeated this message in numerous forums since then. At the recent debate between Senator Harris and the Vice President, Vice President Pence dodged a question about the peaceful transfer of power and suggested there would be widespread fraud in mail-in balloting sufficient to call into question the results of the election if Trump did not win.
This is bone-chilling. Refusing to accept the results of the election would profoundly threaten American democracy and risk exposing our country to chaos. Attacking the results of the election through baseless assertions about mail-in ballots is the phoniest of excuses and merely serves to hide Trump’s determination to destroy America’s free and fair democratic elections in order to stay in power.
Many Americans feel helpless in the face of this threat from those who put power over principle and self-advancement over all else. But the American people are not, in fact, helpless. You – LDAD’s supporters – can help prove this point.
You are accomplished and influential individuals who have an ongoing opportunity to exercise the power we all share as lawyers and leaders in our communities. We are, therefore, hoping that each of you will commit yourself to doing even more, if possible, to help preserve our system of government in these perilous times.
For some, it will be contacting members of Congress and influential friends and acquaintances to urge them to repudiate publicly and in the strongest possible terms the President’s threats to ignore the election results. For others, it will be writing letters to the editor and op-eds or engaging actively in social media to make their voices heard. Perhaps becoming a poll worker or poll watcher to help prevent voter intimidation or being available for post-election activities to support the outcome, would most suit your interests and talents.
Here is a link to a chart that contains information on several non-partisan organizations engaged in voter-protection activities. We encourage you to look into these worthy organizations to determine how you can lend your assistance. We also encourage you to supplement this list with your own contacts and resources and let us know what you have done. We hope you will view our list as a useful starting point or as a supplement to what you are already doing.
We urge you to do as much as you possibly can to make your influence felt. You are too important not to do so. None of us wants to be left wondering, when the election is over, whether we could have done more to help protect the rule of law and our country’s democracy.
We at LDAD are proud of all you do and are grateful for your support.
The Steering Committee of Lawyers Defending American Democracy