John Eastman, veteran law professor and former dean of the Chapman University School of Law, spent last Wednesday telling a mob that “dead people voted” and that shadowy election workers kept fake ballots on hand to feed into machines as needed to keep Biden in the lead to rile them up. Unlike his buddy Rudy Giuliani, who told them to engage in trial by combat, Eastman can’t claim “Game of Thrones” made him say it. Maybe he got his inspiration from Battlestar Galactica? Time will tell.
In any event, this Wednesday, his employer announced that he’d be “retiring.”
It’s the middle of the school year. Eastman is only 60. So it’s tough to sell the idea that this retirement was entirely voluntary.
Soon, we can expect to hear from the “viewpoint diversity” clan that Eastman’s departure amounts to a vicious assault on free expression… by a private university. The slippery slope will be greased again to warn that if a professor can be forced into retirement over “feeding a lies to a violent mob that then launched an assault on the U.S. Capitol” then what will stop them from going after professors for arguing that the ACA is unconstitutional in a law review article? What indeed! There’s simply no way to distinguish the two.
Eastman, the chair of the anti-gay rights National Organization for Marriage, had already gotten a free pass for spouting racist nonsense in public. In August, he’d taken to Newsweek — the news magazine you used to ignore at your dentist, but now a right-wing subreddit that you ignore at your dentist — to argue that Kamala Harris wasn’t an American because birtherism never goes out of style. It was a despicable display aimed at fomenting a lie among the most vile audience, but Chapman stood by their professor even as he used their good name to leverage his lies, because they could deal with running a discriminatory lobbying group or an essay, but not a pep talk to rioters, proving that schools are more than capable of building guard rails on the slippery slope.
At least Eastman can fall back on his old friends at the Federalist Society. Eastman was not just a casual member, but the head of the organization’s Federalism and Separation of Powers practice group — ironic in light of an invasion of the Capitol by invitation from the executive branch. As Mark Joseph Stern points out at Slate, FedSoc has offered squat in response to one of its stars being at this rally. Probably because until at least noon, everyone in FedSoc would’ve been more than happy to join Eastman on stage. Sure, “dead people voted”… whatever it takes to get more of our nitwit interns into lifetime federal judgeships!
At some point, the organization is going to try and distance itself from Eastman. There won’t be any separation, just a statement to the effect of “oh, we’re just a non-partisan debating society so our members say and do a lot of things that don’t necessarily represent us.” And we’ll be asked yet again to suspend our disbelief that the organization that lent its faux scholarly imprimatur to the last four years was right there justifying the administration right to its deadly end.
“We would never support something like that!” the Society will scoff. Right before they invite Eastman to give a lecture on election security.
A Federalist Society Star Helped Foment the Capitol Riot [Slate]
Earlier: Newsweek Says Kamala Harris Essay Not ‘Racist Birtherism’ (Psst, It’s Totally Racist Birtherism)
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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