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Conservative lawyers call on colleagues to fight Trump threat: 'Our country comes first'

J. Michael Luttig, George Conway and Barbara Comstock relaunched a group to "bring sanity back to conservative lawyering and jurisprudence."


A group of prominent conservative jurists are calling on their colleagues to combat Donald Trump's threat to the rule of law, warning a second term in office for the MAGA leader would pose a "frightening" risk to democracy.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in The New York Times, former federal judge J. Michael Luttig, attorney George Conway and former Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia urged other conservative lawyers to put the country first. They wrote:

We are at a point when commitment to fundamental classical liberal tenets of our republican form of government is far more important than partisan politics and political party — and even philosophical questions about the law. Our country comes first, and our country is in a constitutional emergency, if not a constitutional crisis. We all must act accordingly, especially us lawyers.

The op-ed cited recent reporting outlining Trump's apparent plans should he win in 2024, including weaponizing the Justice Department against his political adversaries.

Luttig, Conway and Comstock wrote:

We have seen him try this before, though fortunately he was thwarted — he would say “betrayed”— by executive branch lawyers and by judges who refused to go along with his more draconian and often unlawful policies and his effort to remain in office after being cast out by voters. But should Mr. Trump return to the White House, he will arrive with a coterie of lawyers and advisers who, like him, are determined not to be thwarted again.

The authors took aim at the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group, for having "failed to respond in this period of crisis." The group — whose notable members include all six of the current GOP-appointed Supreme Court justices — has "failed to reckon with his [Trump's] effort to overturn the last presidential election and his continued denial that he lost that election," Luttig, Conway and Comstock wrote.

In response, they wrote, they've relaunched the Society for the Rule of Law Institute to "bring sanity back to conservative lawyering and jurisprudence." The group, originally dubbed Checks & Balances when it formed in 2018, will work to "counteract the new orthodoxy of anti-constitutional and anti-democratic law being churned out by the fever swamps," according to the op-ed.

Will the Society for the Rule of Law Institute attract the legal minds it's hoping to? Or will conservative lawyers, like so many Republicans in Congress, refuse to defect from the MAGA hive mind? Time will tell.