As President Joseph Biden’s reelection bid flounders, the heart of the Democratic Party’s 2024 campaign is to use the courts to stop Donald Trump’s campaign. Their legal tactics run from lawsuits aimed at ruling him off the ballot for “insurrection” to a slew of criminal cases seeking to have him thrown in prison.
Their aim is to deny working people the fundamental right to vote for the candidate of their choosing, seeking to replace the ballot box with the courts. The insurrection cases are based on a clause in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that was intended to prevent former Confederate military and political leaders from running for office after the victory of the North in the Civil War. These cases have been thrown out in each of the six state courts where they’ve been heard so far.
Democrats claim Trump’s call for the 2020 election results to be overturned amount to an “insurrection.” What they’re really targeting is the right to free speech. Thirteen similar cases against Trump are still pending.
The criminal and civil cases against Trump — set for trial in Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington, D.C. — also target free speech and other constitutional protections the working class has a big stake in safeguarding.
More workers are using these rights to discuss what we can do to defend ourselves today. Workers are being drawn into politics in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre of Jews in Israel and Moscow’s bloody attempt to conquer Ukraine. More of us are using unions to fight against the worsening wages and working conditions we face as a result of today’s deepening crisis of capitalism. Union and working-class political activity requires fervent defense of constitutional freedoms.
New wrinkle: ‘Fake elector’ cases
In addition to the prosecutions against Trump, Democrats have begun filing cases against his supporters. They’ve been brought to trial in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada on criminal charges of being “fake electors.” Six so-called fake electors were hit with felony charges by Nevada Democratic Party Attorney General Aaron Ford Dec. 6.
Each state government prepares two certificates to present to Congress after a presidential election, one confirming the electors pledged to the winning candidate and one by those electors confirming the result of the vote.
Because he was challenging Biden victories is some states, Trump supporters there selected their own electors, ready to serve if the challenges were successful. They were up against the deadline for submitting the voting certificates, which is in mid-December. When Trump’s challenges failed in court, his elector lists became irrelevant. Congress accepted the Biden electors. There was no victim and there was no crime.
Each of the “fake electors” criminal cases is aimed at bolstering the central legal case Democrats have brought against Trump by the Justice Department’s special counsel, Jack Smith in Washington, D.C. Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by challenging the election results.
Smith filed new “evidence” Dec. 5. It says that remarks made by Trump in 2012 and 2016 claiming that voting scams marked those elections “demonstrate the defendant’s common plan of falsely blaming fraud for election results he does not like.”
But Trump won in 2016, and he wasn’t a candidate in 2012. The sole goal of this new “evidence” is to prejudice the overwhelmingly Democratic jury pool in D.C. against Trump.
On Dec. 1 U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a motion by Trump that Smith’s case be thrown out. His lawyers appealed her ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Trump is immune from prosecution because he was the president and everything he did involved exercising his presidential duties. They also said he cannot face unconstitutional “double jeopardy” charges because the same charges in this case had been rejected when the Senate threw out Trump’s impeachment in 2021.
Smith is desperate to avoid any delay to the trial, currently set to begin March 4, just one day before the Super Tuesday primary elections. On Dec. 11 he filed a special motion with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to take jurisdiction of Trump’s appeal out of the hands of the appeals court and consider it themselves on an expedited basis. The high court gave Trump until Dec. 20 to respond. On Dec. 13 Chutkan put a temporary halt to all trial proceedings until the high court makes a ruling, but said her gag order on Trump stays in place.
Trump’s 2024 campaign committee issued the following statement, “As President Trump has said over and over again, this prosecution is completely politically motivated. There is absolutely no reason to rush this sham to trial except to injure President Trump and tens of millions of his supporters.”
New levels of invective
As Democrats’ moves to bump Trump from the ballot face difficulties, their invective against the former president gets more extreme. Biden called Trump a fascist Nov. 15, saying he “echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.”
“A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable,” screamed a headline in the Nov. 30 Washington Post, trying to justify Democrats’ relentless assault on political rights. “When a marauder is crashing through your home, you throw everything you can at him,” columnist Robert Kagan wrote. “Obstruct his path back to the Oval Office.”
But Trump is no more a “tyrant” than Biden or any other capitalist politician. All of them — Democrat and Republican alike — seek to defend the profit-driven rule of the capitalist class.
The assaults on constitutional protections led today by Democrats will be carried out with even greater ferocity against the working class as we take steps to defend our own class interests against the bosses and their government.