Members of our Community Editorial Board, a group of community residents who are engaged with and passionate about local issues, respond to the following question: The University of Colorado Boulder has been urged to fully investigate John Eastman’s conduct while he was CU’s visiting conservative scholar. Your take?
Dr. John Eastman’s credentials were impressive: a law degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Claremont, prestigious judicial clerkships on the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court, employment at a white shoe law firm and prior runs for political office. CU made him a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought.
Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, Eastman took the stage with President Donald Trump. Before handing the microphone to Eastman, Trump stoked the crowd: “John is one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country, and he looked at this and he said, ‘What an absolute disgrace that this can be happening to our Constitution.’” He added that “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” The president then urged the crowd to march to the U.S. Capitol, where the electoral count was taking place, and both he and Eastman urged the vice president to delay the electoral count.
The following day, CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano condemned Eastman’s actions. Shortly thereafter, CU stripped Eastman of his public duties, although it did not fire him. In response, Eastman threatened to sue CU for $1.9 million.
A federal lawsuit recently revealed additional facts, many of which previously were unavailable to the public and CU. The court file is fascinating, and you can review it for free at cadc.uscourts.gov (select “Newsworthy” and “Cases of Interest” on the dropdown menu).
According to the court’s March 28, 2022 order, various emails and testimony demonstrate that Eastman met with the president, vice president, and White House officials Jan. 4-5, 2021. There, he urged the vice president to take actions that Eastman acknowledged were “contrary to consistent historical practice, would likely be unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court and violated the Electoral Count Act on four separate grounds.”
The court found it likely that Eastman “dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.” It also noted that during Eastman’s testimony he asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination 146 times.
I commend CU for attempting to increase intellectual and political diversity on campus, and other schools should strive to do so. But Eastman is a bad apple — not because of his beliefs or speech, but because of his likely criminal conduct.
CU should now fully and unequivocally disassociate itself from Eastman and pursue any legal remedies it may have. That’s not cancel culture, that’s supporting the rule of law.
Andrew Shoemaker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Colorado Boulder should investigate John Eastman’s conduct while he was at CU. On March 28, Judge David O. Carter found that Eastman and Trump likely committed felonies including obstruction of justice and conspiring to commit voter fraud. Carter called the behavior “a coup in search of a legal theory.”
These alleged felonies were likely committed while Eastman was employed at the Benson Center using university resources, according to reports in the Denver Post and the Colorado Ethics Institute. A full investigation should be conducted by the university and its conclusions and evidence should be turned over to the U.S. Justice Department, Congress and the Colorado and California Bar.
But folks, the election fun is just beginning, because GOP lawmakers across the country have waged an all-out attack on our election system and are going after every nonloyal person in the process.
What Eastman and Trump were doing in 2020 was likely wrong because it appears they were trying to subvert the law in these states after the voting had taken place and the electors were chosen by the legally prescribed manner.
But now, they have changed (or are trying to change) the laws to give them the veneer of legality and are injecting loyal followers into the system to see the process through. State legislatures have broad authority on how they chose presidential electors, and the popular vote method isn’t enshrined in the Constitution.
With loyal followers in positions of power, a Congress that could turn to the GOP in 2022 and newly written and untested laws on their side, 2024 could be very interesting (to put it lightly).
Of course, Congress, given its broad Constitutional discretion over federal elections, could have protected the process by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or the Freedom to Vote Act, but they failed to do so because of the filibuster in the Senate. The fact that these two measures failed should be a bigger deal.
In the end, our system and laws are only as good as the people the run it. If those folks are corrupt, the system will be corrupt, too.
I am sure, whatever these corrupt folks do will be clouded in an air of legality; but it won’t be morally fair or just.
Doug Hamilton, email@example.com or Doug_C_Hamilton on Twitter
If the U.S. House Jan. 6th Committee wants to look deeper into John Eastman, they should have at it.
But CU should resist the partisan calls to dig deeper and recoup trivial travel expenses. Move on.
We can’t change the past. Eastman’s appointment was a regretful episode toward a noble cause: to broaden the diversity of opinion at CU, something sorely needed. Efforts to keep bringing up Eastman are starting to look like a smear campaign against the conservative scholar position itself, and that is a huge mistake.
We should all keep our minds open to other perspectives throughout our lives and be ready to logically, rationally and calmly defend our positions.
Still, college is where kids should be forming those opinions. They need to be exposed to a variety of ideas.
The CU faculty is probably 90% Democratic. While most classes aren’t specifically about politics, far-left ideals have permeated more than just political science courses.
Even friends who teach in the college of engineering aren’t insulated from politics, as if politics are relevant in determining the ideal filter circuit, fluid mechanics or cryptography.
Plus, students don’t, or shouldn’t, come to college with fully formed opinions. They should come as empty, or at least partially filled, mental vessels.
They are here to learn first, from a diversity of opinions, and from that learning, form their own opinions. Until you are educated, you shouldn’t hold any beliefs too strongly.
We all have our biases and wish the world worked a certain way, but we should be open to persuasion from facts, logic and history. Only once we have studied extensively should we have strong opinions.
Students aren’t here to be indoctrinated solely into a left-leaning agenda, yet that is exactly the problem we have at CU without the conservative scholar.
And the left need not fear conservative opinions. They should be mentally prepared, through education, to explain why they disagree and to persuade others with rational discussion.
Colleges shouldn’t be homogenous in thought, either in scientific or political theory. The students who should be most interested in taking conservative-scholar courses should be the liberal students, not the conservative ones.
Witness the current visiting scholar professor Alan S. Kahan — a French scholar in the mold of Alexis de Tocqueville, who brings an outsider’s perspective. Who can deny he is a positive addition to CU?
The Benson Center has learned from the Eastman debacle. It’s time for the rest of us to move on.
Bill Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org