On Thursday, August 26th, seven U.S. Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, his allies (i.e. adviser Roger Stone), Stop the Steal organizers, and members of two far-right extremist groups (i.e. the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys) over the January 6th riot that took place at the U.S. Capitol. The lawsuit, which was filed in a Washington, D.C. federal court, states that the seven officers who filed the suit, as well as other law enforcement officers, “risked their lives to defend the Capitol from a violent, mass attack—an attack provoked, aided, and joined by Defendants in an unlawful effort to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election.” The lawsuit argues that the defendants violated both the Ku Klux Klan Act and other laws, including the D.C. Bias-Related Crimes Act, when they conspired to block the certification of the election results. According to Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 was passed after the Civil War in an effort to fight KKK violence and to prohibit individuals from conspiring and using violence to keep leaders (i.e. Congress members) from fulfilling their duties. Levin further explains that Blacks, under this particular law, were able to take action against the hate groups that used these tactics.
This lawsuit is the not the first to attempt to hold Trump accountable for his actions on January 6th. According to Politico, members of Congress have sued Trump and his allies twice. In February, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) and other Democratic members of the House of Representatives sued Trump, the Proud Boys, and other individuals, for inciting the January 6th riot. Then, in March, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) sued Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., for the roles that they played in inciting violence. Later in March, Sidney Hemby and James Blassingame, two U.S. Capitol Police officers, also filed a lawsuit against Trump, which blamed Trump for their injuries, both physical and emotional. Although former President Trump and his personal lawyer have yet to comment about this recent lawsuit, he has argued in the past that his actions on the day of the capitol riot were protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Legal experts, according to Politico, do think that it is going to be difficult to hold him accountable due to the “broad” protections afforded by this particular amendment.
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.
- Writing: Explain the legal foundation that is being used to sue former President Trump and his co-defendants in the lawsuit filed by the seven U.S. Capitol Police officers.
- Debate: According to legal experts, the claims against former President Trump and others face an uphill battle in Court. Do you believe that it will be difficult to hold these individuals accountable for their actions?
- Poll: All of the defendants named in the lawsuit filed by the seven U.S. Capitol Police officers should be found guilty of inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. (Agree or Disagree).
- Short Answer: Discuss the burden that the lawyers for the seven U.S. Capitol Police officers have to show about former President Trump and the other defendant’s involvement in the January 6th capitol riot.