In a co-authored op-ed Professor Bruce Green and New York Law School Professor Rebecca Roiphe argue that lawsuits from President Trump contesting the results of the election are good for American democracy.
When the major media outlets announced that President-elect Joe Biden had won the White House on Saturday, cars honked and people cheered in Democratic-leaning cities and neighborhoods across America, but President Trump still refused to acknowledge defeat. Commentators have criticized the president for delegitimizing the electoral system by declaring victory before the votes were counted and accusing his opponents of fraud without providing evidence to back it up.
But the president hasn’t called out the troops or private militias. To the contrary, he has called on the courts to vindicate his claims. Former U.S. attorneys have denounced the lawsuits as irresponsible. While his grievances may turn out to be baseless, they represent American democracy at its best.
President Trump has been accused of disrespecting the institutions of democracy in many ways, and perhaps this is part of an attempt to do the same, but he and his allies do appear to be using the courts in a traditional way. Judges, rules of evidence, and ethics rules governing lawyers who appear before the courts are working to ensure that the process is fair. Of course, it remains to be seen whether President Trump and his supporters will respect the results. We should pause nonetheless to note that it’s a good sign that they chose to use this all-American method of contesting the election rather than another, less democratic way.