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Rule of Law Assaulted in Capitol Riot, Law Deans Nationwide Say

Jan. 12, 2021, 8:34 PM

Law deans and professors nationwide decried the deadly Capitol riot as an assault on the rule of law, and expressed “dismay and sorrow” over fellow attorneys who filed frivolous claims on behalf of Donald Trump to overturn the presidential election.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, more than 150 academics cited their obligation to “preserve the integrity of the legal profession” and speak with one voice.

“The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law. The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed,” they said in their statement.

This is the second declaration from the legal community condemning the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by Trump supporters while lawmakers were inside certifying the Electoral College vote for Democrat Joe Biden. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

On Jan. 8, a group of Yale Law School students posted an online petition signed by more than 10,000 law students and lawyers calling for the disbarment of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) for inciting rioters via their prominent roles in supporting the Electoral College challenge in the Senate despite evidence to support their claims and courts ruling to dismiss suits.

Law school deans credited the lawyers and judges who “worked honestly and in good faith” to ensure the 2020 outcome was free and fair.

“However, we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence. This betrayed the values of our profession,” their statement said.

Lawyers must respect the legal system, and claims may only be brought in good faith and appropriately supported.

“Only then can lawyers fulfill their responsibilities as lawyers and public citizens to promote public confidence in the rule of law and the justice system — duties that extend to all professional activities, whether lawyers are representing a client or not,” they said. “The rule of law is as much a touchstone of our profession as it is of our Constitution.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at