An actually valid legal rationalization for the January 6, 2021, coup attempt?

COVID-19 Pandemic

Medicine and the folks who think they know better

I am no longer dividing this topic between (Inter)national and Pennsylvania region. Stories formerly listed in the latter are now included with the former.

The ruling in the Upper Saint Clair case[1] contrasts with one in August, last year, for the North Allegheny school district.[2] My impression, quite possibly incorrect, is that masking is more controversial in the South Hills area (which includes Upper Saint Clair) than in the North Hills and the judge in the Upper Saint Clair case, while claiming to be ruling according to the law, made a point of recognizing the controversy.[3] So yeah, my very deep suspicion is that he was ruling politically rather than legally.

Ben Rumsby and Simon Briggs, “Australian Open thrown into chaos as Novak Djokovic faces Sunday court hearing after government cancels visa again,” Telegraph, January 14, 2022,

Paul Karp, “Novak Djokovic leaves Australia after court upholds visa cancellation,” Guardian, January 16, 2022,

Michael E. Miller, “Novak Djokovic loses visa challenge, denting hopes of playing in the Australian Open,” Washington Post, January 16, 2022,

Tumaini Carayol, “Djokovic’s French Open title defence in doubt after Covid pass ruling,” Guardian, January 17, 2022,

Andrea Stanley, “People Are Hiding That Their Unvaccinated Loved Ones Died of COVID,” Atlantic, January 18, 2022,

Lenny Bernstein, “Inside a Rhode Island hospital E.R. overwhelmed by omicron,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022,

Jacob Gershman, “Judge Blocks Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers,” Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2022,

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rejects request to reinstate universal masking in Upper St. Clair School District,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 21, 2022,

Donald Trump, Right-wing militias, U.S. Civil War

Coup attempt

The question of [Stewart] Rhodes’s purpose, though, is complicated by the likelihood that he and his co-conspirators believed that the election was stolen, and that Congress was acting unconstitutionally to install an illegitimate usurper as the President. In other words, the defendants’ subjective purpose may have been to fight against the subversion of law, not to prevent its execution. Thus, “the big lie”—and the troubling fact that much of the country appears to believe it is the truth—is at the core of the seditious-conspiracy charge.[4]

Oh, shit. Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard law professor, is arguing that a jury may well fail to convict the leader of the Oath Keepers on a charge of seditious conspiracy.[5] I understand and accept her reasoning. I am deeply troubled that the government may not be able to overcome it.

Gersen does point out that Rhodes believed that we are headed for a civil war. But if she is concerned—rightly, I think—that jurors may believe that the 2020 election was stolen,[6] she should also be concerned that those jurors may support Donald Trump’s efforts to regain power, feel violence is justified, or even support such a civil war.[7] I would expect that voir dire, the juror selection process, should seek to weed out such potential jurors, but people who are prepared to accept violence may well be prepared to accept deceit in service to their cause and therefore being willing to deceive lawyers and the judge. And I’m not sure how, logically, advocacy for a civil war helps the prosecutors’ case anyway; to the extent such advocacy might be seen as illegal, it might be excused on the very same grounds as the attempt to stop the election certification (the coup attempt) on January 6, 2021.

This is all bad. Very, very bad. And getting worse.

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects Trump’s plea to shield White House records from House inquiry,” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2022,

John Wagner, “Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s election results,” Washington Post, January 20, 2022,

George T. Conway, III, “The Supreme Court’s order against Donald Trump is even worse for him than it appears,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022,

Jeannie Suk Gersen, “The Case Against the Oath Keepers,” New Yorker, January 21, 2022,

Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jonathan O’Connell, “Supreme Court, investigators force Trump and his children on the defensive on multiple fronts,” Washington Post, January 21, 2022,

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