November 11th, 2020

Blaming the Lawyers – Election Edition

It comes as news to no objective person that Joe Biden won a sweeping victory in the election — both in the popular vote and most likely in the electoral college when the counting is done — and that Donald Trump has lost.

But Trump, being Trump. won’t accept that people have done the rare thing of voting an incumbent out of office. They usually win.

So he’s going to court screaming fraud, or something, and trying to do this in multiple states. Some places he wanted them to keep counting votes and others to stop counting. None of this is in the least bit surprising, because Trump.

But a deeply troubling thing has happened. The Lincoln Project, a group of #NeverTrump conservatives who knew that Trump was neither Republican nor conservative but only out for himself, has decided to attack the lawyers bringing the suits:

The Lincoln Project is set to launch a multiplatform campaign hammering Jones Day and other firms for their role in facilitating Trump’s efforts, I’m told. It includes TV and digital ads and social media highlighting the damage that enabling Trump threatens to our democracy and to the success of the presidential transition.

This is a very bad move.

If lawyers come into court with frivolous suits, then courts can do two things: The first is to dump the suits.

The second is, potentially, to sanction the lawyers if the suits were without basis in law and fact. Courts, after all, have an inherent power to control the conduct of those that come before them and sanction those who use it for an improper purpose. (Chambers. v. Nasco)

So let the lawyers make their arguments. If they go too far in representing their client and overstep their legal and ethical bounds, the courts can take care of that issue

And these would be good things. Let the Trumpers see that the claims of fraud were meritless, and to the extent they existed, they were isolated circumstances where the votes could be counted on fingers and toes. And from both sides.

Sunlight, Justice Brandeis once wrote, is the best disinfectant. Let the world see a lack of merit. Let the world see Trump lose. Over and over and over again.

The one thing we should not want is for anyone to say that he was denied his fair access to the courts and a fair count. Trying to intimidate lawyers away from representation could do that.

Let the courts prove the election and count were fair. Let the courts shove the fairness down Trump’s throat.

Attacking the lawyers for having a reprehensible client is the wrong move. For even sociopaths have a right to due process, and have a right to have their claims heard. And rejected.

Indeed, having the courts reject bad claims is the best possible outcome at this point.


November 5th, 2008

President-Elect Obama – Change Has Officially Arrived

With the stunning election of Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency, change has officially arrived. Even if he is a complete failure as a president, or if tragedy strikes.

Change is here because even more important than the policy differences with Sen. John McCain is the fact that Americans actually elected him to begin with. Martin Luther King famously had a dream that his children would one day live in a nation “where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That dream is now reality because Obama was judged on his policies and character. And he didn’t get there simply because blacks voted for him. It took tens of millions of white and Latino voters also. That change can be nothing less than a shock to every poltical system we have.

The change is such that you can almost hear the jaws hitting the floor in nations around the world, from places where the U.S. is often reviled. Can you imagine the response in the Arab world? Americans elected a guy with the name Hussein?

The biggest losers in this election are those seek to sow hatred because of the conduct of the Bush administration. That hatred reflected on us all. But now what? How do hate-mongers and terrorists engage in recruitment for their wars if Americans have rejected the policy of arrogance and belligerence and shown an open mind to a new era? The invasion of Iraq was a boon to Al-Qaeda, which thrives on war and anarchy. The election of Obama will, I think, be one of the worst things to happen to it when it comes to creating more terrorists. It is now more difficult to demonize America.

The election was met with happiness in both Israel and the Arab world. Think about that, and the doors it could open and the opportunities that could be realized. (Addendum: See hundreds of newspaper front pages here, and click on pictures to enlarge.)

We need not wait for a new dawn of change on January 20th. It arrived last night when the polls closed and Americans made their voices known.
Photo credit: Julie Turkewitz

Prior election coverage:


November 4th, 2008

SUNY Albany Students Turned Away At the Polls

According to Capitol Confidential, students at SUNY Albany, my undergraduate alma mater, are being turned away at the polls and not being given affidavit / paper ballots.

There is, of course, no excuse for not using a provisional ballot if there is a problem. So I have to assume that someone up there doesn’t like the way the students tend to vote.

Update: Given the latest poll, however, it might not matter:


November 4th, 2008

The Day I Lost My Right To Vote (Thanks to Rudy Guiliani)

I voted this morning. But I didn’t always have that chance. In 1998 I lost that right to vote because of Rudy Giuliani, and then became a plaintiff in an election class action suit. And so, on this day that everyone agrees is an historic election (aren’t all elections historic?) I want to re-visit my disenfranchisement.

In October, 1998, I was married and embarked on a three week honeymoon. I would be out of the country, unable to receive mail, and not be near any US Embassy between my departure from the country and election day.

I tried several times to get an absentee ballot, which by law back then must be printed up 30 days before election day. They were not printed up, however, due to squabbling by politicians over what kind of a referendum should be on the ballot.

What kind of squabbling? There was supposed to be a referendum on the ballot on the future of Yankee Stadium. But then-mayor Giuliani, a big Yankee fan, didn’t want it. So he invented a dispute to put a city charter referendum on the ballot that would trump the Yankee Stadium issue. And since the ballot could only have one referendum, the two sides were caught up bickering in the courts over what would be on the ballot, thus delaying the printing of the absentee ballots. You can read some of the sorry details at this NYT article.

As you might guess, I was pissed.

I always vote, and wanted to vote. I turned to an election lawyer and became a plaintiff in a voting rights suit to get the ballots printed up. My affidavit is here: ElectionAffidavit.pdf

On the day I left the country, however, there were still no printed ballots. My wife of one day and I had done everything any citizen could be expected to do to vote.

So Mrs. NYPILB and I (I just know she loves that catchy acronym) took out paper and hand wrote absentee ballots expressing our wishes in the election, noting carefully the proper election district, etc., in the envelope-inside-an-envelope system used here in New York.

There is little doubt about two things:

First, the ballots clearly expressed an intention to cast a ballot by two citizens, and second, they were no doubt defective on a variety of technical grounds since they were not distributed by the Board of Elections.

Should such ballots even be opened to determine the will of the voter?

I don’t know what kind of bizarre things will happen this election day. But let me say before even knowing what they are, that in the event of a dispute any court should side with the intent of the voter if it can be known, and not with the technical aspects of some rule that may have made casting the vote excessively difficult, if not impossible.