The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) strongly opposed the violent revolution in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, organized by people bent on subverting the will of voters by undermining the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Fortunately, in certifying the Biden-Harris victory, Congress resolved this attack and fulfilled its constitutional duty. We must, however, discuss the root cause of this abhorrent event, the blame for which lies first and foremost with Donald Trump.
The president, though, didn’t act alone. Trump’s personal counsel, Rudolph Giuliani, addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House hours before the furious mob invaded the Capitol walls, reiterating false accusations of systematic voter fraud in the presidential election and the U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia.
“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Let’s have trial by combat.”
In recent months, NYSBA has received hundreds of complaints about Mr. Giuliani and his frivolous attempts on behalf of Trump to cast doubt on the veracity of the 2020 presidential election and to reverse its valid results after the votes were cast. As widely reported, these efforts involved the initiation and prosecution of court cases in several states, without any evidence whatsoever. These acts were properly rejected in each and every case by the courts in which they were brought.
NYSBA has a duty to uphold and preserve the rule of law as the largest voluntary state bar association in the world. Based on these allegations, and the comment made shortly before the attack on the Capitol by Mr. Giuliani, NYSBA President Scott M. Karson has opened an investigation under the bylaws of the Association to decide if Mr. Giuliani should be excluded from the Association’s membership rolls.
NYSBA’s bylaws state that “no person who advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States, of or any state, territory or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the Association” The words of Mr. Giuliani were obviously intended to encourage Trump supporters dissatisfied with the result of the election to take matters into their own hands. Their subsequent assault on the Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, aimed at stopping the peaceful transition of power.
Mr. Giuliani will be granted due process and will have an opportunity to justify and defend his words and acts if he so wishes.
For NYSBA, this decision is historic, and we haven’t made it lightly. We should not stand by idly and encourage those who want to kill our democracy’s fabric to go unchecked.