Lawrence Lessig on how Congress should behave when the president breaks the law

Originally published at:


I wish congress would be responsible, but its apparent that they won’t

there will be blood


Can’t like that.


PS. Good luck on Congress moving its collective ass on just about anything…


I agree. However, I was hoping for more of a rousing “GET WITH THE PROGRAM” from Lessig, instead of a measured, calm “do your job”. I think Congress should do it’s job with godamn aplomb and passion, and doubly so when we have a President doing things as they’re being done now.

Congress is chock full of lawyers, and what startles me is thinking that some of them must have gotten their start in the law for precisely the reasons people are upset with the Ban today–gov’t malice/incompetence, or more abstract, the powerful screwing the non–and I’m left stunned at the seeming lack of outrage coming from the Democratic Party, or ANYGODAMNONE even remotely related to the law.

I wish o how I wish for Hunter Thompson to be around for this shitshow, as he’d pin the metaphorical tail on the dirtbag grifter donkey in no time flat. But then he’d probably blow his head off, again, to be rid of this reality.



I agree. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for us humans to become accustomed to any world we find ourselves in. Not sure if you read Popehat at all, but hearing about a federal prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer talk about the difference in his own perspective/opinion between is former and current roles has been enlightening for me. If it happens to somewhat who espouses such consistent principles regarding the law doing its job…

What I want to know is, were the post-WW2 decades (and Post-McCarthy/civil rights era/etc.) just an exceptionally sane time for the federal government (in that even a decent minority of officials were able to come together to act reasonably)? Does it really require years of mass riots and vast grassroots protests to achieve even that modicum of sanity? Is it even possible to sustain such a movement today, since so many of the community institutions and ties from that era (unions, chuches) hold so much less sway now?


Congress is definitely the key but it is technically the hardest to organize against.

What about a web forum dedicated specifically to facilitating people to organize and push members of congress? Each state has a forum with a sub forum for each member of congress inside.

Connecting with others to organize is two clicks away from the home page (state / congress person). Pinned at the top of every congress member’s specific subform is a thread containing all contact information, offices, names of staff, and any other published information on the district including GIS shape files, voter data, demographic data, state congressional offices. Ect.

Congress is full of wimps that can be completely controlled and scared to death if we go one step further than the tea party and actually build some form of simple infrastructure.

Don’t forget you don’t even have to live in a district to run for office in it. We could draft high profile people to start right now going into forgotten districts all across the country and begin building against them with new voter registrations and coalition building.

Does anything simple like this exist? Thoughts?


I’m afraid that even if congress does get its act together it may not be enough to stop him since he doesn’t recognize the authority of anyone who disagrees with him. Laws are insufficient without someone willing and able to enforce them. At some point it may have to come down to someone walking into the oval office with a pair of handcuffs and an arrest warrant.


I had the same thought this weekend. The good doctor would have something to say about all this, I suspect.

I miss him, sometimes.


And then we’ll be left with the Talibangelical VP Pence…


One problem at a time. Yes, Pence would be a terrible President. But Trump seems to be setting himself up to be the last President.

Pence is a spineless enabler but at least we know the Muslim ban wasn’t his idea:


“This country has been having a nationwide nervous breakdown since 9/11. A nation of people suddenly broke, the market economy goes to shit, and they’re threatened on every side by an unknown sinister enemy. These are not philosopher-kings we’re talking about. These are politicians. But I don’t think fear is a very effective way of dealing with things–of responding to reality. Fear is just another word for ignorance.”
— Hunter S. Thompson, Salon.com_Feb. 2003


Ignorance and Loathing in Las Vegas just doesn’t have the same ring to it though.


True, but Ignorance and Learning might. Especially there.


It will only happen if the opposition is, and seems, better than Trump. That is, if it inspires in all Americans—and especially a large swath of the supporters of Trump—a recognition of the ideals that we all know we are to embrace: the Constitution, the rule of law, and government officials who know their place within that system.

At least that part will be easy.

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What’s Woody Allen doing in the center of that photo?

It would be easier if the Dems actually bothered to have spines. The level of complicity is unbelievable. They’ve taken realpolitik to unreal levels, and have lost touch with reality. This is no time for half-measures, and that’s about all they seem interested in.

There is no moral leadership in Congress right now. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Schumer is actually signing off on Trump’s nominees because he thinks that the worse it gets, the better the Dem’s chances two years from now. Then they won’t have to bother toning down any neoliberal agenda or make any compromises with the left that’s out in the streets right now, actually doing the work. Fuck them. I only trust them as much as they actively resist Trump–that’s my one and only, perfectly reasonable criterion.


For the best part of half a century we’ve been passing “laws” that really aren’t. Many of our so-called laws appropriate money, make a few feel-good statements about Congress’ intention, and then empower the executive branch to take unilateral action. That’s exactly the case with this travel ban.

What Congress really needs to do is take its job back.


He’s right. Lessig is just about always right. But the problem is that the Republicans in Congress right now are ecstatic because they finally get a chance to enact the policies that they’ve been wanting to for years and years. Who cares if a few immigrants and lefties get hurt in the process?

There are only two ways that I can see Congress move to impeach:

  1. Trump stops listening to what Congress wants (eg- raises taxes too high, or refuses to repeal Obamacare).
  2. Citizens in the states that elected Republican senators protest loudly enough (this, I think, is quite unlikely for now, most people who voted for him are quite happy that he is actually enacting everything he said he was).

out of the frying pan, into the red hot lava.