When you’re a high profile Republican lawyer who calls the Trump Administration “a shitshow in a dumpster fire” and you’re married to the president’s counselor, what do you do?
If you’re George Conway, you form an activist group of like-minded conservatives and libertarians to defend the Constitution.
Members describe themselves as believers “…in the rule of law, the power of truth, the independence of the criminal justice system, the imperative of individual rights, and the necessity of civil discourse. We believe these principles apply regardless of the party or persons in power. We believe in ‘a government of laws, not of men’.” Their website offers an open invitation for other conservative lawyers to join them in support of speaking out against the Trump administration’s flouting of constitutional and legal norms, especially regarding the independence of the Justice Department.
A Group With A Gut Check On A Cherished Conservative Goal
Most of the Checks and Balances (C&B) members also belong to the conservative Federalist Society, which is an intriguing twist because the Society has significant influence over who makes the list of the Trump administration’s potential Supreme Court nominees.
In other words, they’re challenging the GOP and this administration on one of its most prized and therefore most vulnerable goals of making the judiciary throughout the US a highly conservative one for decades to come.
In my opinion this is the story to focus on instead of the soap opera-ish power dynamic between George and Kellyanne Conway. Though I along with millions wonder what it must be like in their household, their marriage is unlikely to affect the society I live in for the next tens of numbers of years.
Membership Could Include…Liberals
Founding member Stuart Gerson, a former acting Attorney General, insists the group isn’t political. “I would hope the values we seek to uphold are transcendent and liberals would adhere to what we say as well as conservatives,” he stated.
He went on to explain he agrees with two of his fellow conservatives that the appointment by Trump of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General is unconstitutional, a perspective that definitely puts him on shared ground with many liberal lawyers, scholars, and activists.
If in fact C&B isn’t a political group then I’d like to see them do something fairly radical in today’s polarized climate and reach out to their liberal peers to encourage them to join the group. The current members carry a lot of clout in conservative circles and their overture would be a significant move to jump start a dialog about our country’s civic expectations and standards.
After Trump, What’s Next
Eventually the Trump administration will end. So, what could be next for Checks and Balances?
I see a potential for two broad scenarios. One is that its influence has indeed served its purpose as a check and balance on the Trump administration, along with invigorated legislative and judicial branches, effectively warning GOP successors that there is a line not to be crossed if we’re to maintain our nearly three centuries as a constitutional republic.
Two, the group becomes little more than yet another partisan group and its stated intent goes down in flames. Which could be regrettable yet since the group itself somewhat ironically is outside the check and balance structure of the Constitution, there’s no real damage done by its demise. Thus, after Trump, the group is more of a think-tank than an advocacy organization.
Whatever happens, I applaud this group’s intent for breaking from the neo conservative ranks to stand on principles that are important to the members.