Personal Attacks Are All Liberals Have Against Trump Nominees

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David Warrington Vice President for Election Education, Republican National Lawyers Association
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Since President Trump was elected, conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans can’t have legitimate policy and legal disagreements with liberals.  According to liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans want to destroy America, want to hurt or kill people, and are bad people, simply because they do not have progressive policy views.

Does this sound crazy?  I wish it were.  Instead of merely being part of the broad rhetorical strategy to “resist” Trump, liberals and establishment Democrats now actually seem to believe the terrible things they say about those who disagree with them.

A quick look at how they have responded to some of President Trump’s judicial and executive nominees shows how the attacks are not based on facts, policy views, or actual character flaws but instead are fabricated or exaggerated attempts to assassinate the character of good people.

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  He has over seven years of judicial opinions and six years of legal scholarship to scrutinize.  But instead of examining his record, liberal organizations have dismissed him as a “right-wing ideologue” who is simply a pawn of organizations like The Federalist Society.

Despite being rated unanimously well qualified to serve on the Eighth Circuit by the American Bar Association, which has been called the “gold standard” by Democratic leaders, Democratic Minnesota Senator Al Franken officially opposed Stras in a long statement.  Franken’s statement asserted, among other things, that Stras would be “a deeply conservative jurist” who would not “set aside rigid beliefs in favor of finding common ground” and would “reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people.”  Putting aside Franken’s grievous misunderstanding of the rule of a judge and the rule of law, he has once again equated conservative views with divisiveness and hatred for regular people and baselessly ascribed those abhorrent philosophies to Justice Stras.

Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Barrett, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, was likely surprised to discover during her confirmation hearing that her sincerely held Catholic beliefs might disqualify her, as a conservative, from holding judicial office, at least according to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Texas attorney Trey Trainor, nominated to the Federal Election Commission last week, also quickly came under fire for his sincerely held Catholic beliefs.  Like all the other nominees, Trainor’s true transgression is his conservative and libertarian views, particularly his vocal support for First Amendment rights and distrust of government bureaucrats’ efforts to regulate political speech.  The vast majority of the American people share these views—liberals also used to value the First Amendment—yet they have been painted as radical enough to disqualify Trainor from public service.

Even when liberals attempt to engage in an actual policy debate, the mischaracterizations continue.  Trainor has pointed to The Federalist Papers as an example of how anonymous speech has traditionally been valued and protected, in opposition to efforts to increase donor disclosure requirements.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign counsel, Marc Elias, criticized the analogy in a Tweet-storm.  Elias claims the analogy fails because The Federalist Papers would have been exempt from disclosure because they were published in the press and therefore would have been entitled to the press exemption and that when they were later published in book form, that too would have been exempt from disclosure.  Elias conveniently ignored the fact that Democrats on the FEC actually do want to regulate—and mandate disclosure of—books, the press, the Internet, and everything else.

This pattern has persisted since President Trump’s first nominations were submitted to the Senate.  While Senate Republicans were committed to confirming Justice Neil Gorsuch, Senate Democrats and activist liberal organizations did their best to destroy his good name in the process.

At the time of his nomination, then-Judge Gorsuch had over ten years’ worth of legal opinions from which to glean his judicial philosophy.  Yet instead of engaging in a genuine study, liberals cherry-picked a handful of cases to argue, based on the parties involved in those cases and not the relevant legal standards, that Gorsuch hates workers and disabled people.  What could have been a legitimate legal disagreement about statutory interpretation and an intellectual discussion of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provisions turned into a bizarre assertion that Gorsuch wanted truck drivers to freeze to death.

And those associated with Gorsuch are subject to the same attacks as well.  Above the Law, a popular legal gossip blog, published a vulgar attack on Mike Davis for leaving his law practice in Denver to clerk for Justice Gorsuch and for being a textualist, constitutionalist, and originalist.

When then-Senator Sessions was nominated to be attorney general, America was told that the longtime supporter of civil rights who has led efforts to recognize the achievements of the civil rights movement was a racist.

Sadly, these are just a few examples of the vitriol unleashed by the left over the past few months.

These attacks are not based on an honest review of any nominee’s scholarship, policy views, work history, associations, or character but instead are based on the nominee having been nominated by Trump, having mainstream conservative or libertarian views, and being supported by conservatives and libertarians.  They seriously degrade our public discourse and prevent productive discussions and debates about a nominee’s policy views.

But what these attacks also show is the intellectual strength and superb qualifications of the people President Trump has nominated and the desperation of liberals to avoid them—and their policy views or constitutionalist legal philosophy and respect for the rule of law—having any impact on the federal government.

The American people should be immensely grateful to all those willing to serve in the Trump Administration and the federal judiciary.  Miguel Estrada, a leading attorney who was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit and filibustered by Senate Democrats, declared only a couple months into liberals’ attacks on Trump nominees that he “would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation.”

Estrada’s view is understandable in the current environment and makes the willingness of President Trump’s nominees to run the gauntlet of groundless character assassination set up by liberals and establishment Democrats for the greater good of the country and the American people all that more commendable.

Perspectives expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.