SUPPORT OF THE LAWYERS DEFENDING DEMOCRACY ``OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS''; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 77
(Extensions of Remarks - May 09, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E567-E568]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    SUPPORT OF THE LAWYERS DEFENDING DEMOCRACY ``OPEN LETTER TO THE 
                        PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS''

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. JAMIE RASKIN

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 9, 2019

  Mr. RASKIN. 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. In the last three months, more than 
400 attorneys--including former federal and state judges, United States 
Attorneys, managing partners of large law firms, law deans and other 
distinguished lawyers from around the country--have stepped forward in 
a broad and unprecedented effort to defend American democracy and the 
rule of law against official lawlessness.
  The lawyers have signed and published an ``Open Letter to The 
President and Congress'' identifying five fundamental norms and 
principles of our democracy which they believe the President has 
violated. These violations involve the President's unjustified attacks 
on the mainstream media, courts, law enforcement and intelligence 
agencies, his repeated lying to the public, and failure to respect 
civil discourse and peoples from all backgrounds. The Letter's Appendix 
cites examples of violations of each principle.
  The Letter emphasizes that it is ``NOT about disagreements over 
Republican or Democratic policies, liberal or conservative ideology, or 
political party advantage. The values and principles threatened here 
are much deeper, and are much more important, than politics, policy 
differences and any politician's self-interest. They're the bedrock of 
our American, constitutional, democratic form of government for all 
times.''
  The Letter notes that: ``[u]nless challenged and checked, the pattern 
of disregard weakens the norms that underpin American self-government 
and invites unfettered Executive power--transforming the United States 
from a democracy to an autocracy. As members of the legal profession, 
pledged to support the rule of law and the constitutional separation of 
powers, we must not allow this to happen.'' I am pleased to endorse 
this Letter and Appendix by Lawyers Defending American Democracy, 
www.lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org, and include them in the Record.
  We are fortunate that, at a time of rising authoritarianism around 
the world, lawyers in the United States are standing strong for the 
rule of law and the Constitution.

          Open Letter of Lawyers Defending American Democracy

       We live at a time when America's fundamental values are 
     under attack. As American lawyers, we're deeply concerned 
     about protecting the democratic institutions and principles 
     that have enabled America to be the world's preeminent beacon 
     of freedom and opportunity.
       As lawyers, we have the responsibility to defend the 
     underlying constitutional values and norms of political 
     behavior on which our democracy depends. These core values 
     and principles include: the rule of law; institutional checks 
     and balances; separation of powers; press freedom; 
     truthfulness to the public; and the integrity of our system 
     of justice.
       Accordingly, we, as lawyers, cannot ignore or remain silent 
     about President Donald Trump's disregard of these core values 
     and principles. We must speak out.
       Yet, we recognize that elections have consequences. This 
     effort to energize and mobilize our legal profession is 
     emphatically NOT about disagreements over Republican or 
     Democratic policies, liberal or conservative ideology, or 
     political party advantage. The values and principles 
     threatened here go much deeper, and are much more important 
     than politics, policy differences and any politician's self-
     interest. They're the bedrock of

[[Page E568]]

     our American, constitutional, democratic form of government.
       Specifically, we call on the President to respect and honor 
     the following fundamental principles and norms of American 
     democracy:
       Independence, integrity and the critical role of mainstream 
     media: An independent and watchful mainstream media is, and 
     always has been, an essential component of American 
     democracy.
       Independence, integrity, competence and nonpartisanship of 
     the judiciary: The independence, integrity, competence and 
     nonpartisanship of our judiciary is, and from the founding of 
     our Nation has been, a central pillar of our democratic 
     system.
       Truthfulness of public officials: Our democracy is built on 
     trust and telling the people the truth about public matters; 
     the maintenance of that trust and Americans' ability to make 
     informed and rational public decisions require our leaders to 
     provide honest, factual information to us all.
       Independence, integrity, competence and nonpartisanship of 
     federal criminal justice and intelligence agencies, including 
     Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI: Nonpartisan 
     independence, integrity and competence are critical to the 
     fairness of our federal criminal justice system and 
     intelligence agencies.
       Civil discourse and fair treatment, including the respect 
     for rights and the dignity of all individuals, regardless of 
     race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, 
     disability or sexual orientation: Civil discourse and fair 
     treatment, including respect for the rights and dignity of 
     all individuals, is an essential ingredient of American 
     democracy.
       The President's attacks on these core American democratic 
     principles undermine the foundations of our Constitution and 
     threaten the rule of law. Unless challenged and checked, this 
     pattern of disregard weakens the norms that underpin American 
     self-government and invites unfettered Executive power--
     transforming the United States from a democracy to an 
     autocracy. As members of the legal profession, pledged to 
     support the rule of law and the constitutional separation of 
     powers, we must not allow this to happen.
       Fortunately, a group of prominent conservative lawyers has 
     recently spoken out on many of these same issues through a 
     new organization, ``Checks and Balances.'' Now, other members 
     of the bar must no longer remain silent.
       We call on the leaders of America's bar associations, law 
     schools, law firms and fellow lawyers nationwide to speak 
     out, on a nonpartisan basis, against these attacks on the 
     core of our democratic constitutional form of government. As 
     lawyers, we have a responsibility to uphold ``the rule of 
     law'' and prevent ``the law of rulers.'' Wherever you live 
     and work--in cities, towns, rural areas, suburbs--American 
     democracy needs to hear your voice.


                                Appendix

       We list below the five fundamental principles and values of 
     American democracy highlighted in our Open Letter to the 
     President. Under each principle, we describe patterns or 
     examples of behavior by the President that we believe 
     constitute serious violations of these principles. The 
     examples are not intended to be comprehensive and may be 
     added to in the future.
       Principle: Independence, integrity and the critical role of 
     mainstream media.
       Pattern of Violations: Nevertheless, the President has 
     labeled the mainstream news media that have earned our trust 
     through decades of relentless, factual reporting as the 
     ``enemy of the American people!'' and has repeatedly 
     criticized reporting he dislikes as ``Fake News.''
       Principle: Independence, integrity, competence and 
     nonpartisanship of judiciary.
       Pattern of Violations: Nevertheless, the President has 
     criticized ``our Court System'' as ``broken and unfair'' and 
     has pilloried the judges and decisions of an entire Federal 
     Circuit as ``[a] terrible, costly and dangerous disgrace.'' 
     He has publicly labeled a federal judge with whose decision 
     he disagreed a ``so-called judge''. And he sought to 
     undermine the public's confidence in the integrity of another 
     federal judge--who had ruled that the President's immigration 
     policy violated express statutory language--by calling him 
     ``an Obama judge.''
       Principle: Civil discourse and fair treatment, including 
     respect for rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless 
     of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, 
     disability or sexual orientation.
       Examples of Violations: Nevertheless, the President has 
     said that there were ``some very fine people on both sides'' 
     of the murderous Charlottesville white nationalists' 
     demonstrations. He's approved the removal of thousands of 
     children from their immigrant parents, for extended time 
     periods, and has publicly insulted several respected African-
     American female journalists.
       Principle: Independence, integrity, competence and 
     nonpartisanship of federal criminal justice and intelligence 
     agencies, including Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI.
       Examples of Violations: Nevertheless, the President has 
     attacked the DOJ for indicting Republican Congressmen for 
     serious financial crimes because the indictments would harm 
     the chances for reelecting Republicans. He has attacked and 
     removed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for lack of 
     personal loyalty, after having previously complained that: 
     ``I don't have an Attorney General.''
       He has accused the special counsel's deliberate, 
     professional, lawful investigation of Russian interference 
     with the 2016 election as the ``rigged Mueller Witch Hunt!'' 
     And, he has rejected the U.S. intelligence community's 
     consensus finding of Russian interference in that election, 
     because Vladimir Putin, the autocratic Russian President, 
     told the President that there was no interference.
       Principle: Truthfulness of public officials.
       Examples of Violations: [. . .] The Washington Post has 
     documented more than 7,500 ``false or misleading claims'' by 
     the President

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