George Conway, Kellyane's husband, forms new conservative lawyers group to stand up to Trump

Conservative lawyers are starting to urge their colleagues to speak out against Trump's constitutional violations

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 14, 2018 3:16PM (EST)

George Conway (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
George Conway (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

A group of conservative lawyers called Checks and Balances has released a statement urging their ideological brethren to reject actions by President Donald Trump that violate basic constitutional principles.

"We are a group of attorneys who would traditionally be considered conservative or libertarian," the statement explained. "We believe 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.'"

The statement added, "We believe in the Constitution. We believe in free speech, a free press, separation of powers, and limited government. We have faith in the resiliency of the American experiment. We seek to provide a voice and a network for like-minded attorneys to discuss these ideas, and we hope that they will join with us to stand up for these principles."

The signatories of the statement include Lori S. Meyer, a lawyer whose husband Eugene B. Meyer is the president of the Federalist Society; Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania who was appointed as the first Secretary of Homeland Security by President George W. Bush; law professors Jonathan H. Adler and Orin S. Kerr; and Peter D. Keisler, a former acting attorney general under Bush.

Perhaps the most notable name on the list is George T. Conway III, the husband of Trump's counselor and former campaign manager. As he told The New York Times, "There's a perception out there that conservative lawyers have essentially sold their souls for judges and regulatory reform. We just want to be a voice speaking out, and to encourage others to speak out."

Keisler, who like recent Trump appointee Matt Whitaker served as acting attorney general under a Republican president, elaborated on those thoughts when speaking to the Times.

"It's important that people from across the political spectrum speak out about the country's commitment to the rule of law and the core values underlying it — that the criminal justice system should be nonpartisan and independent, that a free press and public criticism should be encouraged and not attacked. These are values that might once have been thought so basic and universally accepted that they didn't need defending, but that's no longer clearly the case," Keisler explained.

The statement, which was dated to Tuesday, was released in advance of the annual convention of the Federalist Society, which begins on Thursday. The timing of the letter's release was intended to coincide with the convention, according to Adler, who told the Times that "this convention has become the most important meeting place for conservative and libertarian lawyers with an interest in politics. You go fishing where the fish are."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Birthright Citizenship Donald Trump George Conway Jonathan Adler Matt Whitaker Tom Ridge