Trump lawyer who predicted election reversal to speak at conference over objections
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – When John Eastman speaks at the American Political Science Association’s annual conference next month, he might want to walk lightly. Political scientists across the country condemn Eastman and blame their own organization for allowing Trump’s former lawyer to attend the discipline’s most important annual meeting.
Eastman made headlines this week following the publication of a memo he wrote last year that outlined a six-step plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Eastman is expected to participate in two panels at APSA, both led by the Claremont Institute, which lists him as a principal investigator on its website. The “virtual roundtables” are scheduled for Sunday, October 3 and are titled “The 2020 Elections and the State of American Conservatism” and “The Current and Future Direction of the Supreme Court”.
Dr David Karpf, associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, said on Wednesday that Eastman’s plan to overthrow the presidential election places his views well outside the legitimate market of ideas.
“If this were published as a blog post,” Karpf said of the memo, “I would call it laughable junk. Since it was presented to the Vice President of the United States, I would call it a betrayal. The memo said then-vice president Mike Pence should refuse to recognize voters in seven states and declare Trump president.
“The bottom line here,” Eastman wrote, “is that Pence should do it without asking permission, whether from a joint-session vote or from the Court.”
This suggestion, according to Karpf, was beyond pallor. “It reverses free and fair elections,” he said.
Eastman’s notoriety goes beyond this memo. In 2020, he was widely criticized for an op-ed he wrote that suggested Kamala Harris is not a U.S. citizen. Eastman, who was a law clerk for Clarence Thomas, was also a professor at Chapman University’s law school. He retired from that post after delivering a speech at the January 6 “Save America” rally that preceded the storming of the United States Capitol.
“He’s not a political scientist, but he and the Claremont Institute are trying to gain legitimacy by having small panels at APSA, where they present these kinds of arguments, or at least don’t get those arguments criticized,” Karpf, who is an APSA member, says. “It is dangerous for US politics and APSA should not be associated with it.”
Karpf said he believes those attending the conference should be clear about their views on Eastman and the Claremont Institute. “Claremont should no longer be welcome,” he said. “It’s not about the diversity of ideas. It’s about recognizing that there are ideas that transcend the boundaries of American political discourse so much that we shouldn’t lend them our platform.
This is not the first time that political scientists have challenged the APSA. In 2011, academics opposed John Yoo’s attendance at that year’s annual meeting. Yoo was an attorney for the old Pres. George W. Bush, who wrote documents describing the alleged legality of torture techniques. In responding to members’ objections, the APSA Board of Directors stated that it supported the right of members to protest Yoo’s presence “as we support the right of APSA members to produce panels. and speakers on subjects they deem important for the association to examine ”.
In that letter, APSA clarified that “the organizers of the affiliate group he attended,” and not APSA itself, invited Yoo to the meeting. “These groups exist explicitly to bring forward various points of view,” the letter continues.
Like Yoo, Eastman is expected to participate in a panel hosted by an outside group, the Claremont Institute. On its website, the Claremont Institute is soliciting donations of $ 5,000 to “support” its panels at the APSA annual conference.
“You can designate a giveaway at any level for the APSA panels,” the Claremont page continues, “where our researchers teach the real principle of government and its application to today’s politics.”
For his part, Karpf said he fully supports the diversity of ideas. “I agree with the position that we should have a diversity of ideas at the conference. I also readily admit that there are gray areas where it is a difficult call, ”he said. “But I think every political scientist, who’s spent time in America for the past four years, certainly since January 6, can look at this note and immediately recognize that it’s not near the line. There are difficult cases. And then there is this. This is not a typical case. It’s so over the line.