Prominent conservative lawyers, including Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway, have formed a group to act as a support network for others to speak out against the Trump administration’s abuses and “threats to the rule of law.”
“Checks and Balances” features some of the most prominent conservative and libertarian lawyers in the country, including members of the Federalist Society and former members of the George W. Bush administration. Their mission statement is a recitation of conservative principles:
We are a group of attorneys who would traditionally be considered conservative or libertarian. We believe in the rule of law, the power of truth, the independence of the criminal justice system, the imperative of individual rights, and the necessity of civil discourse. We believe these principles apply regardless of the party or persons in power. We believe in “a government of laws, not of men.”
We believe in the Constitution. We believe in free speech, a free press, separation of powers, and limited government. We have faith in the resiliency of the American experiment. We seek to provide a voice and a network for like-minded attorneys to discuss these ideas, and we hope that they will join with us to stand up for these principles.
Members include John B. Bellinger, III, Phillip D. Brady, Carrie F. Cordero, Stuart M. Gerson, Peter D. Keisler, Marisa C. Maleck, Lori S. Meyer, Paul J. McNulty, Alan Charles Raul, Paul Rosenzweig, Tom Ridge, Jonathan Adler, and Orin Kerr, in addition to George Conway.
It should be noted that most of these attorneys support much of Donald Trump’s agenda. They have played a significant role in the Trump administration’s selection of federal judges and have given intellectual support to many of the president’s initiatives.
But some of them are troubled by some of the president’s actions. Jonathan Adler writes in Reason:
Speaking for myself, this is not a reflexive anti-Trump initiative. I will continue to praise Administration actions that are praiseworthy, such as the announced nomination of Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and reports that the Administration will support meaningful sentencing reform. But I also think it is imperative that those of us on the Right make clear that assaults on our laws and norms will not be tolerated, whatever the source. As Orin put it in the NYT story above: “The rule of law has to come first. Politics comes second.”
Will Trump demonize, belittle, and humiliate honest critics who are allies on many issues involving the law? Can Trump take any criticism at all? Given the prominence of the members of this group, they are bound to cross swords with the president over something.