Turning the Justice System into a Weapon Hurts All Americans

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After a Manhattan jury found Donald Trump guilty on 34 felony counts at Thursday’s conclusion of the politically motivated trial, many Trump critics are glad to see him held accountable for, well, being so dislikable.

Ana Navarro, co-host of political talk show “The View” and a well-known Trump critic, expressed her feelings: “This is a man who made my life a living hell for four years, has made the life of our country a living hell for six years,” Navarro said. “And so he deserves to be accountable. He’s been Teflon Don his entire life. He has been getting away with cheating and lying and doing things and criminal acts for all this time.”

Alex Shephard shared a similar sentiment for The New Republic. “The hush-money trial gets at some of that.… Was Trump trying to manipulate the election? Was he trying to hide an affair from his wife? Was it a little bit of column A and column B? We’ll never know precisely,” Shephard said. “What is clear is that Trump is crooked and more than a little sleazy — two things that have been part of his self-image, to varying degrees, since he first became a public figure more than 40 years ago.”

To Navarro, Shephard, and many others, the fact that Trump seems politically unpalatable and criminal is proof he deserves to be convicted of some sort of crime, whatever that may be.

Not only is this sentiment unprincipled — it is dangerous. Individuals who share Navarro and Shephard’s view may believe they are celebrating the conviction of a politician they dislike. What they are actually celebrating is the erosion of democratic norms and the decline of a neutral justice system.

This Isn’t Just About Trump

The weaponization of our justice system didn’t start with Trump, and it won’t end with him either.

Paulette Harlow, an elderly woman who participated in a pro-life protest at a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic in 2020, was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday. She is 75 years old, a grandmother of eight, and in declining health. Her husband has expressed fear that Harlow will die in prison.

The sentence comes after Harlow and nine others planned and carried out a peaceful demonstration at the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion facility. The group was protesting late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo, who was previously recorded by pro-life organization Live Action admitting he would leave a baby to die if the infant were born alive during a failed abortion.

Government attorney Rebecca Ross claimed the case was not about Harlow’s pro-life beliefs, but her statement to the court reveals the opposite. Ross portrays Harlow and the other protestors as void of “compassion” for women attempting to abort their children and goes on to recommend a sentence of over three years.

But to say Harlow’s actions were lacking in empathy is not fact. It is a case against Harlow’s pro-life beliefs, which she articulated in her own statement to the court.

“We were there because we are compassionate, we do care, and we love them,” she said. “It’s despicable that in this country we have pregnant women and we can’t do anything to help them except offer to kill their child. That’s not help at all.”

If the prosecution of Harlow were truly about the “violent obstruction of reproductive healthcare” and “the civil rights of others,” as Ross claimed, we would be witnessing the equal prosecution of violent pro-abortion activists, who have committed vandalism, property damage, theft, and arson with increasing frequency since Roe was overturned in June of 2022. Pro-life and pro-abortion individuals would rest assured that justice is impartial and the rule of law is upheld.

Instead, prosecutions of pro-abortion violence have been few and far between. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has aggressively pursued FACE Act prosecutions against pro-lifers at the direction of the Biden administration. In a Department of Justice report compiling recent FACE Act-related prosecutions, only one of the 33 cases prosecuted violence against a pro-life pregnancy center.

That’s no mistake. If Lady Justice ever wore a blindfold, it has long since been removed.

The left is unable to legalize abortion nationwide, so they hijack the federal court system and persecute pro-lifers. They are unable to thwart Trump’s growing prospects in the 2024 presidential elections, so they use the courts to prosecute him as well.

A Hijacked Court System

These types of political prosecutions mark the descent of the American legal system into the very type of politicization our Founding Fathers warned against. Such a warning was provided by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper No. 78:

For I agree, that “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.” And it proves, in the last place, that … liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have every thing to fear from its union with either of the other departments.…” The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution.

As Hamilton correctly observed, an independent judicial system is no threat to the American people. A judicial system hijacked by individuals within the executive and legislative branches is the greatest threat of all. This is the very threat we presently face. If the downward spiral continues, our rights and privileges — namely, our right to vocally disagree with the federal government — will amount to nothing.

In the meantime, the politicization of our courts isn’t consequence-free.

A recent Ipsos poll revealed that 47 percent of people think Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s charges against Trump were politically motivated. If ever there was a vote of no-confidence in the American court system, this is it. Public trust in the justice system is broken, and it’s not just Trump supporters who are concerned.

Frequent Trump critic Mitt Romney accused Democrats of “political malpractice” and said Biden should have issued a pardon.

“Bragg should have settled the case against Trump, as would have been the normal procedure. But he made a political decision,” Romney told Atlantic writer McKay Coppins.

CNN’s legal analyst Elie Honig called out the corruption of the trial even more plainly.

“The judge donated money … in plain violation of a rule prohibiting New York judges from making political donations of any kind — to a pro-Biden, anti-Trump political operation,” said Honig. The “Manhattan DA’s employees reportedly have called this the ‘Zombie Case’ because of various legal infirmities, including its bizarre charging mechanism. But it’s better characterized as the Frankenstein Case, cobbled together with ill-fitting parts into an ugly, awkward, but more-or-less functioning contraption that just might ultimately turn on its creator.”

But it is not only high-profile individuals and politicians who should be concerned. After all, the attack on Trump, Harlow, and others who defy left-wing ideology isn’t just an attack on them. It is and always has been an attack on what they stand for and the people they represent.

“In the end, they’re not coming after me,” Trump told a crowd at the Georgia Republican Party’s annual convention in 2023. “They’re coming after you, and I’m just standing in the way.”

He has repeated the sentiment many times since. Love him or hate him, he’s right. We are not looking at a slippery slope. We are tumbling down it. An America with a hijacked court system is an America where no dissenting opinion is safe.

If you ever plan to disagree with the federal government’s status quo, you have a responsibility to stand up to tyranny now. They may be after Donald Trump today, but they will come after you eventually. By then it will be too late.

Monroe Harless
Monroe Harless
Intern. Monroe is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and political science.

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