More than 200 judges have been embedded in the federal judiciary by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. The huge majority of those judges come from the Federalist Society, the right-wing dark money association that has been working for years to erode civil rights, end abortion, oppose LGBTQ equality, stop gun safety laws, and fight regulations protecting the environment, health care, and worker safety—aka everything achieved in roughly half a century of progress. They are responsible for the current makeup of the Supreme Court and most of the Republican Senate. And they also have at least partial responsibility for the insurrection that happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
John Eastman, until this week the chairman of the Federalist Society’s Federalism & Separation of Powers practice group, spoke at the pre-insurrection rally. “Anybody that is not willing to stand up and [vote to overturn the election] does not deserve to be in the office!” Eastman told the crowd. Standing next to Rudy Giuliani at the rally, he broke into a smile when Rudy incited the crowd with “Let’s have trial by combat!”
Those linked tweets are from Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who highlighted Eastman’s role in pushing Trump’s various plots to overturn the election: “As the president’s actual attorneys backed away from his coup, Eastman rushed in to fill the void, attempting to bolster the scheme with incoherent legal theories,” Stern writes. “When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the Supreme Court to overturn the election by nullifying millions of votes, it was Eastman who intervened on Trump’s behalf to endorse Paxton’s suit.”
Worse, Eastman was in the Oval Office on Jan. 5 telling Trump—and Vice President Mike Pence—that Pence could legally toss out the real, certified electoral votes and throw the election to Trump. Because of his participation in the coup attempt, he’s been tossed from the Chapman University School of Law, where he was a law professor and onetime dean. He’s officially “retired”—at age 60, in the middle of the school year. But sure, retired. Eastman has been a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder, where calls for his dismissal have so far resulted in cancellation of two courses he was going to teach this spring.
As of now, the Federalist Society has not thrown out Eastman. Never mind that his name has been floated as one of Trump’s impeachment lawyers, which would be kind of awkward. In what can only be considered an effort to save face—and its ability to someday again be able to shape the federal judiciary—one of the group’s co-founders is calling Trump “a danger to the nation” who must be convicted by the Senate.
But the Federalist Society, which has supplied 85% of Trump’s judges, has made no comment on Eastman, who is an insurrectionist. That’s a problem for the organization. It’s a much larger problem for the nation. Expanding the courts to dilute the influence of these judges is going to have to be a high priority for President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Senate.
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