A cancel-culture group linked to Hillary Clinton has asked the Supreme Court to disbar attorney John C. Eastman after he represented the Trump campaign in legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election.
Eastman’s lawyer promptly labeled the complaint “scurrilous, even defamatory,” in an Aug. 1 legal response obtained by The Epoch Times.
The request to take away Eastman’s high court privileges is unusual because no other body has previously disbarred him. Normally, an effort to disbar a lawyer in the Supreme Court comes after another court has already ruled against the person in professional misconduct proceedings.
But left-wing activists have long been incensed at the famous conservative legal scholar’s speech at the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington. Protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building en masse, causing the delay of the congressional certification of the presidential election results, while the rally was still in progress at the other end of the National Mall. Former President Donald Trump denies that he had anything to do with the civil disorder and cites the fact that he specifically urged his supporters to protest peacefully.
Members of the U.S. House select committee investigating the Capitol breach have been investigating Eastman’s legal advocacy for the Trump campaign—including a theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence, while presiding over the joint session of Congress, could have delayed or halted the counting of electoral votes. Eastman has claimed that federal agents violated the law when they seized his personal cellphone in June.
Earlier this year, the group, known as The 65 Project, founded by longtime Democratic Party operative and Clinton ally David Brock, began filing bar complaints against attorneys across the country who challenged the election results. The purpose of the group is to “not only bring the grievances in the bar complaints, but shame them and make them toxic in their communities and in their firms,” he told Axios earlier this year.
Brock, an erstwhile conservative journalist who switched sides and became a fundraiser for Democrats, founded Media Matters for America and other groups. Media Matters, which purports to combat “conservative misinformation,” has promoted the Trump–Russia collusion conspiracy theory and Clinton for years. The “65” refers to the number of lawsuits the group claims were filed aimed at invalidating the 2020 election results.
Michael Teter, managing director of The 65 Project, wrote (pdf) to the clerk of the Supreme Court on July 28 urging the court to “issue an order suspending Mr. Eastman from practice before the Court and move forward with disbarment.”
“Mr. Eastman violated his oath to conduct himself uprightly and engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of our nation’s highest court” in representing Trump in supposedly dubious election-related litigation, he wrote.
Teter claims that Eastman “bolstered and amplified ‘claims not backed by law’ and ‘claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion).’ He actively participated in an effort to undermine our elections—a scheme that led to the gravest attack on American democracy since the Civil War.”
The “attack” to which Teter was referring was the civil disturbance of Jan. 6, 2021, which delayed the congressional certification of the presidential election results by several hours. Democrats and a handful of Republicans refer to the events of that day as an insurrection, a claim adamantly rejected by Trump and his supporters.
Eastman “abused” the court and “his conduct was unbecoming a member of the Court,” Teter wrote, going on to claim that there was a “direct line” between “Eastman’s efforts and the January 6th insurrection.”
“Indeed, a federal court in California has already found that Mr. Eastman ‘more likely than not’ engaged in a criminal conspiracy,” Teter states in his letter.
“Membership in the United States Supreme Court Bar represents a privilege, not a right, and should be afforded only to those whose professional conduct demonstrates respect for the rule of law.”
Teter also urged that Justice Clarence Thomas be recused from considering the request because his wife, Ginni Thomas, is a conservative activist and Trump supporter who supported post-election legal challenges, and because Eastman clerked for the justice in the Supreme Court’s 1996 term. Teter acknowledged, however, that the justice’s recusal in the matter isn’t legally required.
Eastman responded to the complaint through his lawyer, Charles Burnham of Burnham and Gorokhov.
The 65 Project’s complaint dated July 29 is “scurrilous, even defamatory,” Burnham wrote.
“It was filed by an advocacy group … [largely comprising] Democrat party activists who have never had an attorney-client relationship with Dr. Eastman nor even been litigation adversaries of Dr. Eastman,” he wrote.
Axios reported that the group’s mission is “to deter right-wing legal talent from signing on to any future GOP efforts” to contest elections, the lawyer wrote.
The wording of the complaint is sloppy and appeared to have been cut and pasted from other complaints. One example provided by Teter claims that Eastman asserted various legal claims in a specific case in which Eastman was not even involved, “a fact that Teter does not disclose to the Court,” Burnham wrote.
Summary suspension is “unwarranted” and “the complaint itself, which is both flawed on its face and defamatory, should be dismissed.”
“Efforts by The 65 Project and other like-minded groups to politicize the bar complaint process to deny legal representation to clients and causes with which they disagree should not be countenanced by this Court,” Burnham wrote.
Former Department of Justice civil rights attorney J. Christian Adams told The Epoch Times by email that “the 65 Project shows how hypocritical lawyers on the left are.”
“Two decades ago, it was acceptable to represent terrorists who murdered Americans on 9/11. Anyone who criticized a lawyer who chose to represent a terrorist was attacked by the ABA [i.e. the American Bar Association] and the left,” said Adams, who is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF).
“Now, lawyers who represent the President of the United States are subject to the frivolous wrath of The 65 Project. Perhaps conservative donors should start ‘The 66 Project’ and file bar complaints about all the lawyers from The 65 Project who are harassing lawyers who took on cases in good faith.”
PILF describes itself as “the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity.” The nonprofit organization “exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity, and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared August 1, 2022, in The Epoch Times. It was updated August 2, 2022.