No luck for Steve Bannon, so what about law and order?

Evita Duffy, writing about the sentencing of Steve Bannon, at The Federalist, October 24, led this observer to a Politico article last June, by Kyle Cheney, that bolstered this observer's understanding why the courts have tended to be unsympathetic to Donald J. Trump and his aides and supporters.

Ms. Duffy believes that Mr. Bannon is a "political prisoner," and "the rule of law is dead."  This observer does not disagree that Mr. Bannon is a political prisoner, along with the hundreds of "Jan. 6" protesters held for months without trial in deplorable conditions.  (If these were Antifa defendants held under indictment by a Republican administration, the ACLU, New York Times, and Washington Post would be denouncing their unconstitutional confinement from the rooftops.)  But perhaps rule of law is not dead, just hibernating.

Here is Mr. Cheney's account explaining why Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee in 2019, did not dismiss the contempt of Congress case against Mr. Bannon:

In another win for the select committee, Nichols declined to rule that the structure or make-up of the committee undercut the validity subpoena to Bannon, sweeping aside arguments that the panel was operating improperly because the panel lacks any appointees of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"The court cannot conclude as a matter of law that the committee was invalidly constituted," Nichols said. He noted that the House had repeatedly ratified the work of the select committee by voting to support its motions to hold various witnesses in contempt, an indication that the House viewed the committee's work as valid. Courts, he noted, are required to give great deference to the House's interpretation of its own rules.

Let's just focus on the last part of reporter Cheney's account — that Judge Nichols indicated he must defer "to the House's interpretation of its own rules."  This is sleight-of-hand jurisprudence.  Why?  The Pelosi Jan. 6 panel did not "interpret" the rules under which the committee was established; it blatantly disregarded them — to create the most anti-Trump inquisition possible.  If violation of the rules or law is dismissed as "interpretation," then the rule of law is, indeed, dead.

In a different setting, Judge Nichols may well not have allowed a House committee to put itself above its own rules — if, that is to say, a leftist refused to comply with a subpoena issued by an anti-Biden congressional committee.

Now to consider certain practicalities in the treatment of Mr.Bannon as "political prisoner" by Judge Nichols.

Yes, a double-standard would explain the hammering Judge Nichols applied to Steve Bannon, but there is a reason for this double-standard, or possibly two reasons.

What if Judge Nichols concluded that a decision favorable to Mr. Bannon was above his pay grade in the event that such a decision would have unleashed a horde of leftist protesters outside his home?  By sentencing Mr. Bannon, and letting him avoid jail pending appeal, the judge would have transferred this can of worms to a group of appellate judges and thus avoid being singled out as a target by a protesting leftist mob.

There is, however, a broader framework to consider as to why courts seem unsympathetic to the treatment accorded Trump and his supporters by the Biden/Garland administration and their lapdogs in Congress and the media.  The election and presidential term of Mr. Trump have unleashed, it seems to this observer, an emotional outburst not unlike the hysteria instigated by prosecutors and child psychologists in the mid-1980s in the Fells Acres childcare travesty.  Fantastic accusations, extracted from toddlers by so-called well-meaning adults, led to the imprisonment of members of the Amirault family, who operated Fells Acres, with Violet, the mother, dying in prison, and her son, Gerald, serving 18 years — because he would not confess his "guilt."

Since 2016, the left has been seized with what has rightly been called Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) — and as courts in the 1980s could not resist the childcare center hysteria engendered by prosecutors and others, the Judiciary in 2022 cannot be immunized, totally, against TDS.  As irrationality prevailed in the childcare center cases some forty years ago, irrationality has seeped into courtrooms where cases are heard related to Donald J. Trump.

Judge Nichols, as we learn from Kyle Cheney's Politico report, six months ago, ruled, effectively, that the House can ratify the actions of a House committee transgressing its own rules, and the committee itself can "interpret" its rules out of all meaning.  Can't get more irrational than that, can you?  Now where are GOP House members to shout out, "Stop this irrational Jan. 6 process!  We want to get off!"?

Image via Flickr, public domain.

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