In what we can only hope will be the first in a long string of civil actions against Donald Trump, Tuesday morning Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, the NAACP, and civil rights law firm Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and the two white supremacist groups “The Proud Boys” and “The Oath Keepers” for their role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building.
The suit alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, conspired to incite the riots to keep Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. They are, in effect, retrying the sole article of impeachment from the second impeachment of Donald Trump in open court.
The suit further claims that the defendants did so in violation of The Enforcement Act of 1871, also known as “The Ku Klux Klan Act,” which is an act of the United States Congress empowering the President with special powers to suppress racist insurrection, including the power to suspend habeas corpus. In other words, the plaintiff claims Donald Trump was specifically working against the letter and intent of the Enforcement Act when, as president, it was his duty and obligation to enforce it.
There is no mention of it in the suit, but this could prove to be the first time in history a former president has been hit with a civil suit for failing to honor his oath of office. It was, after all, Donald Trump’s sworn duty to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” You’d have to be a fairly cynical defense lawyer to argue that the oath of office oath does not cover honoring and executing laws created by the very Congress enshrined in that selfsame Constitution.
A judgment in favor of the litigating parties could be used as evidence of guilt in future criminal actions against Trump and company. The more lawsuits such as this one that are brought, the harder and more expensive it will become for Trump. The suit is being brought in the name of Representative Thompson exclusively, so this is not a class action suit. Therefore any member of Congress can also bring an identical lawsuit should he or she wish to.
In recompense the suit seeks a “declaratory judgment that the actions described herein constitute a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(1),” that is, “The Ku Klux Klan Act.” In other words, the defendants want the courts to formally declare that Trump was in the wrong.
Second, they ask for “Injunctive relief enjoining Defendants from engaging in future violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(1).” In other words, they want the court to order the defendants to never engage in such activity again.
Next, they ask for unspecified financial compensation, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees and “other relief as the Court deems necessary and just,” in amounts to be determined later by the court. Let’s hope the cost to Trump and the racist scum he plotted with comes to millions. And then let’s hope other members of Congress take this same playbook and wash, rinse and repeat. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.