Destroying the Rule of Law to Get Trump

Robert Bolt’s prize-winning play “A Man for All Seasons” takes place in 16th-century England during the reign of King Henry VIII. Chancellor Sir Thomas More, a devout Catholic and the country’s highest-ranking lawyer, opposes the king’s decision to break with the Roman Catholic Church, which had refused Henry’s request to annul his marriage to his first wife, Catherine (who had not borne him and son and heir), so that Henry could marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn.

Early in the play, More discusses the dangerous palace intrigue with his wife Alice, daughter Margaret and her Protestant suitor, William Roper, a passionate but impressionable young man. When More insists that one must first violate an English law before being arrested, Roper’s moral sensibilities are affronted. “So! Now you’d give the Devil benefit of law?” he protests. “Yes,” says More. “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

The high-minded Roper insists that he would “cut down every law in England to do that!”

More warns Roper: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

Fast forward 500 years. The Democratic Party (and some of the GOP’s old guard) have decided that Donald Trump is the devil, and in William Roper-esque fashion, they are willing to cut down every law in the United States to get to him.

It started in 2016 with the baseless accusations that Trump had somehow “colluded” with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. The FBI lied multiple times to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court to get federal warrants to spy on Trump and his advisers. The Justice Department launched a multiyear investigation, based upon “evidence” that they already knew was falsified “opposition research” commissioned and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign apparatus. Despite more than $30 million in taxpayer dollars spent, the “investigation” produced exactly nothing.

But Trump’s enemies have not let up.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives twice and acquitted twice.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, tried to prosecute Trump for “falsification of business records,” despite expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, and zero evidence of anything that would make the alleged conduct a felony.

New York’s Democrat Attorney General Letitia James filed an action for civil fraud against Trump, alleging that he undervalued his extensive property in Palm Beach, Florida, when applying for business loans. James wants to confiscate all of Trump’s New York properties and cancel his licenses to conduct business.

Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over the case, is determined to help her do it. Engoron ruled pre-trial that Trump had committed fraud. During the trial, Engoron has deliberately ignored defense testimony from multiple real estate experts supporting the valuation of the property in Trump’s financial statements, as well as that of the lenders themselves, who testified that they used their own appraisers, were paid back promptly and were not defrauded.

The latest travesty is the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court to strike Trump’s name from the ballot in that state “for his role in the January 6, 2021” riots at the U.S. Capitol. This gravely inappropriate decision not only exceeds the court’s power according to legal experts on both the Left and Right, but is an obvious effort to ignore mounting evidence that undermines the Left’s narrative that the Jan. 6 protests were an “insurrection” that Trump “instigated,” an accusation for which Trump has not been criminally charged, and for which he was acquitted by the U.S. Senate in the second impeachment proceeding.

A bare 4-3 majority of the Colorado Supreme Court has disqualified the candidacy of a man with nearly 70% support from his own party, and increasing support from constituencies traditionally outside the realm of the GOP. This is disenfranchisement of Colorado voters and interference with a national election.

Whether one thinks that Trump is the devil or that his enemies are, the best protection against unlawful conduct is integrity in the application of the laws themselves.

When the rule of law is compromised, diluted or discarded — even in pursuit of some purportedly lofty aim (“Saving our democracy!” “Fighting misinformation!” “Dismantling systemic racism!” “Liberating Palestine!”) — wrongdoers profit while the public suffers.

We’ve seen this already in the cities and states that have eliminated cash bail, refused to enforce theft and immigration laws, or looked the other way when left-wing mobs steal, burn and destroy. We’re watching it play out at our southern border and on college campuses. Crime and antisocial behavior increase, because those who engage in that behavior know they can inflict damage without any consequences — to them.

What is being done to Donald Trump is part of the same pattern.

In “A Man for All Seasons,” Cardinal Wolsey tells Thomas More that it is his duty to his country to compromise his principles. More counters, “When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties … they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

In other words, using bad means to achieve allegedly beneficial ends was no excuse for corruption 500 years ago.

Nor is it today. Thomas More’s words predict our future. If the gatekeepers of America’s legal system succeed in their efforts to “cut down all the laws” of this country to get to their “devil,” all of us will pay a terrible price.

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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