By the Editorial Board of the Orange County Register

Free societies understandably have a difficult time dealing with those who threaten their institutions and seek to destroy their democracies. Such societies allow broad latitude for political speech and require due process, which is why it’s taken so long for federal courts to mete out sentences in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. This is how it should be.

While it’s one thing to sort through video footage and prosecute charges against hooligans who breached the Capitol, it’s another matter to hold accountable politicians who riled them up and lawyers who plotted antidemocratic strategies. That brings us to a local figure – former Chapman University law professor John Eastman, who help devise Trump’s effort to overturn the election and cling undemocratically to power.


Eastman didn’t storm the Capitol, attack police or defecate in Capitol hallways – at least not literally. But, as Politico explained, he “spent the final weeks of the Trump administration stoking false claims of election fraud in order to put pressure on GOP-led state legislatures to appoint alternate slates of presidential electors.” He authored an infamous memo gaming out scenarios to keep Trump in power.

We would oppose any prosecution of him given that dark plotting doesn’t amount to law-breaking, but we appreciate the State Bar of California’s effort to strip him of his law license. Whatever the results, the hearing, which includes several witnesses, should expose Eastman’s shame-worthy behavior.

Last year, the congressional committee investigating January 6 sought Eastman’s emails, but he resisted by invoking attorney-client privilege. In a scathing rebuke, Orange County federal Judge David O. Carter ruled that the emails were not deserving of protection from release. And Carter made it clear why, however difficult, it’s necessary to hold democracy’s enemies accountable.

“If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution,” Carter explained in his ruling. “If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.”

Reprinted with permission from the Orange County Register.