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The election spectacle

Prominent US trial lawyer Reuben Guttman shares his thoughts on the spectacle that is the US presidential election.


Donald Trump, who owns swanky real estate and cruises the sky in his own aircraft, is getting closer to achieving his dream: a residency in public housing and a pass to use public transportation. Why he gave up his own TV show to compete for airtime debating those who stand in the way of his dream is a mystery to me.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama – who is slated to vacate his publicly owned flat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in less than a year – has been informed that he need not perform all of the constitutionally provided chores attendant to his publicly provided room, board, and transportation. As to filling that vacant spot on the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling the President that although he was elected to a four-year term, he should leave the job of appointing a Supreme Court Justice to the next guy (or gal as the case maybe). Wow; a job where you are not required to fulfill all the duties of the job description! Mr Trump really is good at seeing opportunities.

Ted Cruz, who also is vying for free public housing and transportation, has weighed in; claiming that there is no precedent for a ‘lame duck’ President to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. It is too bad that Justice Scalia is not presently in a place where he could respond to Senator Cruz. If one was to take the ‘originalist’ view of the Constitution – as often and conveniently espoused by Justice Scalia – it is clear that President Obama gets to exercise the privileges and obligations of President up until his final day of residency in public housing.  If this is an issue, Mr Cruz should consult former President Carter. Did he tell the American public after the November 1980 election, which he lost, ‘Folks I am going to leave that Iranian hostage thing for the next guy to deal with’? No. President Carter negotiated for the hostages’ release right up until the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as his successor.

Amidst all this fanfare, there are the issues of whether voters will elect a socialist President (Bernie Sanders) and whether Hillary Clinton should disclose what she told the Wall Street bankers. If you recall, the United States Government bailed out Goldman Sachs to the tune of $10bn, and Goldman bailed out Hillary Clinton with $675,000 in speaking fees. Why she would want a job that takes six years to make the kind of money she can make with three speeches is another mystery.  

All in all, this makes for quite a spectacle; the only thing better, perhaps, would have been live TV coverage of the Boston Tea Party.  

Reuben Guttman is a trial lawyer and founding partner at Washington, DC-based firm Guttman, Buschner & Brooks.

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26 February 2016

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