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R. Emmett Tyrrell / January 30, 2020

Codes of Conduct From the Swamp

Dare we call it the Trump Revolution? We call the presidency of Ronald Reagan the Reagan Revolution. Well, consider what President Donald Trump has achieved in but three years.

Dare we call it the Trump Revolution? We call the presidency of Ronald Reagan the Reagan Revolution. Well, consider what President Donald Trump has achieved in but three years. He has revived the economy with ample growth, historically low levels of unemployment and efficiencies in the economy thanks to the removal of unnecessary stultifying regulations. He promises more if reelected. He has assured international peace and stability. Becoming a prominent terrorist is no longer a smart career choice. Longevity can be problematic. And the president has assured a judicial system stocked with men and women who really believe in the rule of law. Furthermore, he has brought us two Supreme Court justices that will abide by the Constitution. If he has four more years in the White House, he will bring us more.

Yet apparently our country’s intelligence community was out to put the clamps on Trump before he was even elected. Slowly, we are finding out that, for instance, some of the warrants issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were illegal. We are finding out that these agencies were eavesdropping on Trump and his aides. Conservatives always defended the CIA and FBI against career civil libertarians. Now we are finding out that these agencies were used against Trump and his people. What did the Trumpians do to antagonize the intelligence community?

Do the heads of these agencies really think that Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin? I have not seen the evidence. A two-year investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller could not find the evidence either. So, let us come up with the evidence that will convince Americans that — as John Brennan, formerly of the CIA, has said — Trump’s behavior was “treasonous.”

Possibly the civil libertarians have been right about the threat the intelligence agencies pose to ordinary Americans’ civil liberties, but now those civil libertarians have fallen strangely silent. Why are they not aroused by the treatment of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos? Does one have to be a communist to gain their support? The silence of the civil libertarians is but one of the many oddities of this latest chapter in American history.

Now what Trump has dubbed “the swamp” is erupting with more poison. Just the other day, we learned that the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference is planning to bar judges from belonging to the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society is a scholarly group of law students, law professors and lawyers whose interest in the law leads them to hold seminars, lectures and other such events that revolve around the law. It has chapters at law schools all over the country. Its members are mainly conservative and libertarian, but it is open to all comers, and there are even a few adventurous liberal members.

Oh, yes, one more thing: Until recently, Leonard Leo, a leading conservative thinker and activist, was vice president of the Federalist Society. Leo has rightfully taken a leave of absence from the Federalist Society, perhaps because he is a leading figure on the team of advisors who have helped the president pick his nominees to the courts.

The fact that the president has had so many of his nominees accepted is proof of how high the Federalist Society’s standards are. The Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference claims that the Federalist Society is too political. What about the Women’s Christian Temperance Union? If they suggested nominees to the Trump administration, would the Committee on Codes of Conduct object that the abstemious ladies are too political? Is there not a guarantee of freedom of association in the First Amendment? Do the liberals not have an organization equivalent to the Federalist Society?

As a matter of fact, they do. It is called the American Constitution Society. Moreover, it is a highly political organization, as might be expected from liberals. What organization of liberals is not highly political? It takes political positions, counsels on judicial appointments and files amicus briefs. The Federalist Society follows none of these practices.

Now the clever minds of the Committee on Codes of Conduct have published a bull pronouncing that judges be barred from both organizations. I have a better idea. Let the First Amendment’s right to free association be affirmed, and let judges be members of either society or both societies. Better yet, encourage judges to join the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. It is an admirable organization that deserves a comeback, especially in light of the spreading legalization of marijuana.

Now, let us get on with the Trump Revolution.

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