PALM BEACH, FL—Responding to the news that the Manhattan District Attorney had indicted him over payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, former President Donald Trump denounced the move Friday, telling reporters, “All arrests are politically motivated, as the legal system is the codified exercise of political power.” “This indictment is obviously an attempt by the Democrats to use against me the complex webs of power relations that influence the nature of rights and consequences in a given society and that we conceptualize as a legal system,” Trump said before quoting verbatim a passage from political philosopher Michel Foucault that reads, “The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the ‘social-worker’-judge; it is on them that the universal reign of the normative is based.” “This is nothing more than a political witch hunt carried out by corrupt Democratic officials using the law as a political cudgel, as it intrinsically is, because what is the law but a system by which the powerful may enforce adherence to certain rules and strictures among the less powerful? These Soros-backed Manhattanites are using the United States legal system as clarified in the landmark 1803 case Marbury v. Madison—which established the Constitution, and therefore America’s legal system, as not merely a set of principles but as the actual law of the land—to target me for what they claim is a violation of those laws. Yet I remind them that until now no American president has ever been indicted, which is as clear an example of the politically charged nature of the law as I can think of. Legal positivism, as understood by Jeremy Bentham and others, tells us that there is not necessarily a connection between morality and the law, and so it follows that a so-called lawbreaking act that may be considered punishable in some cases is left unpunished in others. Is that discrepancy not, then, a question of political power? For even such an act as taking another human life is deemed effectively above the law in some cases, if we are to follow the Schmittian logic of the sovereign state of exception. What these partisan hacks need to get through their thick skulls is that political concerns are permitted, by general agreement, or at least by the threat of state violence standing in for democratic accord, to make legal structures and consequences selectively applicable. But this is just another example of big-city legal departments wielding the law for political aims. I mean, seriously, just look at how the law is selectively enforced on the Black populations of U.S. cities, with arrest and incarceration rates far outstripping those of whites. The critical race theories of Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and others are instructive on this point, positing that legal progress for Black people only occurs when it converges with the political interests of the white elite. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from a sad, declining country where political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” At press time, numerous Republican officials, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, had come out in agreement that Trump’s arrest was politically motivated by tweeting passages on legal relativism from The Common Law by the late Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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