A New Civil Case Powerfully Opens a New Front against Trump for Russia Conspiracy


Professor Jed Shugerman wrote a post in Take Care blog regarding a lawsuit against the Trump campaign.

A new civil complaint has been filed against the Trump campaign, and it is perhaps the most compelling private case filed so far, because it focuses powerfully on the Russian hacking conspiracy with three plaintiffs who were concretely harmed by the release of private information. In Cockrum et al. v. Donald Trump for President, the plaintiffs have solid standing and a firm foundation in a statutory claim: long-standing civil rights law protecting voting rights and privacy from intimidation and harm.

Each plaintiff has a compelling story of harm, because the hacking conspiracy released deeply private information or sensitive financial and contact information. The complaint sets out step-by-step the facts suggesting the coordination between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign, and it is actually a riveting weaving of many strands and events over the past year.

The legal theory comes from statutes passed after the Civil War to protect civil rights during Reconstruction (it was originally called the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, or the Enforcement Act, and these set of statutes were intended to address non-state actors organized to intimidate). The statutory basis is 42 U.S.C. Section 1985(3):

(3) Depriving persons of rights or privileges

If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire … for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws; or for the purpose of preventing or hindering the constituted authorities of any State or Territory from giving or securing to all persons within such State or Territory the equal protection of the laws; or if two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States; or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy; in any case of conspiracy set forth in this section, if one or more persons engaged therein do, or cause to be done, any act in furtherance of the object of such conspiracy, whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for the recovery of damages occasioned by such injury or deprivation, against any one or more of the conspirators.


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