Trump Trials: Threat to American Justice System?


Recent events concerning former President Donald Trump pose a threat to all Americans. In The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump, New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg has potentially damaged his office’s credibility. Alongside New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, Bragg secured convictions against Trump on 34 felony counts, thereby indicting the American legal system as being administratively corrupt.

The trials of Trump mirror the trials of America. Transforming our judiciary into a tool of politics risks dismantling key elements of our republic if not promptly addressed. The significant legal cases against Trump represent bills of attainder and ex post facto laws, which the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids at both federal and state levels.

Bills of Attainder

Bills of attainder were historically used by English kings to destroy individuals of high status; “attainder” refers to an “attainted” person or group whose rights are obliterated. Those designated could face execution or severe punishment, and their property might be seized by the state. The condemned suffered “corruption of blood,” preventing their heirs from inheriting any part of their estate.

A bill of attainder targets specific individuals or groups for destruction rather than addressing a type of crime. For instance, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, and her lady-in-waiting, the Viscountess Rochford, were executed by bills of attainder at the king’s command.

James Madison, the father of our Constitution, wrote in Truth Voices No. 44, “Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws … are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which applies at the federal level, states, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 declares, “No State shall … pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law.”

Ex Post Facto Laws

Ex post facto laws retroactively create or alter laws. In the 1798 case Calder v. Bull, the Supreme Court held that the prohibition against ex post facto law applies only to criminal, not civil, cases. However, in the 1878 case Burgess v. Salmon, the Supreme Court stated, “The cases cited hold that the ex post facto effect of a law cannot be evaded by giving a civil form to that which is essentially criminal.” This applies to the action brought against Trump for battery and defamation under a New York law enacted in May 2022.

Tyrannical Rule

Our founders understood that despotic rule requires concentrated power. The will of the American people was designed to be realized through representative democracy, achievable only through a separation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Bills of attainder are inherently undemocratic as they violate this separation of powers, allowing a legislature to act as a court and depriving the accused of legal rights without due process. They thus fuse judicial powers with legislative powers at the behest of a dictatorial executive, creating unconstitutional powers and enabling tyrannical rule.

The assertion of guilt to destroy political adversaries is central to creating a bill of attainder. For example, New York Attorney General Letitia James pledged multiple times during her campaign to “get Trump.”

Traditionally, bills of attainder place judicial power in the hands of the legislative branch. In Trump’s major cases, highly politicized judges and prosecutors in partisan districts have combined these powers that were meant to remain separate. This new merging of authorities amounts to an updated form of a bill of attainder, which must be nullified immediately. This devious tool is a dangerous device to defeat Trump.

Carroll Case

The case brought by E. Jean Carroll and her attorneys involves alleged acts that couldn’t be criminally charged due to New York’s statute of limitations, given the events purportedly took place decades ago. Statutes of limitations exist to protect the innocent from charges related to unprovable acts due to time passage. The civil decision against Trump for battery could not have proceeded without the Adult Survivors Act, signed into law by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2022. This act selectively suspended New York’s statute of limitations, providing a one-year window for alleged victims to file civil suits regardless of when the purported crime occurred.

This part of the Carroll case conflicts with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burgess v. Salmon, which concerns cloaking “essentially criminal” cases in a “civil form.” The alleged offenses asserted by Carroll are inherently felonious but couldn’t be criminally prosecuted due to the statute of limitations and were thus pursued civilly, apparently contravening a coherent reading of Burgess v. Salmon.

The various cases against Trump inflict grave damage on our republic, as do the excessive fines imposed, which violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “excessive fines.” Collectively, what’s being done under the guise of legal action to injure Trump personally, damage his family, and hinder his presidential run must ultimately be brought before the Supreme Court and overturned as attacks on the Constitution and its protections.

Bragg Case

The repetitious and highly biased verdicts secured by Bragg, with Judge Merchan’s apparent assistance, will be remembered in legal history as reflecting bills of attainder in their most blatant form and creating and leveraging ex post facto law. A potential misdemeanor involving business records, which couldn’t be brought due to the statute of limitations, was revived by linking it to an unproven felony.

The forcible merging of an expired misdemeanor with a felony charge created new law without legislative action. Bragg not only breached Trump’s Sixth Amendment rights, which require proper notification of specific charges, but also crafted what amounts to an ex post facto law. Bragg and Judge Merchan should be disbarred for this deceitful inquisition.

Judge Merchan didn’t require that the jury unanimously agree on the unlawful means underlying the supposed felony. The judge’s instructions to the jury stated, “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were.”

In these instructions, the judge replaced the need for jury unanimity on the crime’s essence with individual jurors’ thoughts on “unlawful means.” This unprincipled substitution allowed the judge to direct the jury so it could deliver guilty verdicts on each count without first agreeing on the nature of the foundational felony. This omission severely harms due process since establishing the felony’s nature wasn’t required.

Trump’s Legacy

Trump led the nation to prosperity without engaging in war, while countering the plans of key adversaries. He expanded freedom domestically through regulatory and criminal justice reforms. His creation of the Abraham Accords brought peace between Israel and four Muslim-majority nations, reducing global antisemitism.

The accomplishments of the Trump administration have been disparaged by President Joe Biden, his party, leftist elites, and those seeking America’s dismantling. Their arguments revolve around destroying Trump by any means necessary. These enemies of progress clearly do not grasp America’s core values.

America was founded on the study of God’s Word and history, inspiring a quest for fairness and truth. Accepting any other standard denies the wisdom of Proverbs 11:1, “False balances are an abomination before the Lord: but a just weight is acceptable unto him.”

If the state’s influence corrupts the scales of justice, true justice is unattainable. It is time to recognize the severe prejudice against Trump. Every citizen must denounce the immense harm inflicted so our republic can endure.

Richard B. Levine
Richard B. Levine
Contributor. Richard B. Levine served as Director for Policy Development on Ronald Reagan' s National Security Council staff. He is the recipient of two Presidential letters of commendation and the Department of the Navy' s highest civilian honor. Richard holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Richard advises former senior officials on national security, government, and economic issues.

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