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Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2019. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2019. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

One of the fundamental tenets of our legal system is that lawyers have a special responsibility for preserving and protecting the rule of law. When historians write about the Trump era, they will almost certainly conclude that lawyers played a dominant role in aiding and abetting Trump’s subversion of the rule of law, and of democracy itself.

Tyrants depend on lawyers to retain power and suppress dissent. When lawyers behave ethically and use their standing and skills to challenge repression, a tyrant’s grip on power is much more tentative. When lawyers discard ethical norms and subordinate conscience and principle to a tyrant’s demands, repression is more easily attainable.

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