Civil rights lawyers vs. Trump

David Lane joins oth­ers in cre­at­ing a coali­tion af­ter the re­cent elec­tion.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Jesse Paul

High-pro­file civil rights at­tor­ney David Lane says he and a group of about 100 other Colorado lawyers have cre­ated a coali­tion to rapidly re­spond to civil rights vi­o­la­tions — ev­ery­thing from free speech to re­li­gious rights — that could arise with the new pres­i­dent.

The group formed af­ter a meet­ing last week and in prepa­ra­tion for what it fears will be an “on­slaught” of civil rights cases.

“It was in di­rect re­sponse to Don­ald Trump be­ing elected pres­i­dent be­cause ev­ery time he opens his mouth he at­tacks civil rights,” Lane, who is serv­ing as point per­son for the group, said Mon­day.

Cre­at­ing the coali­tion comes on the heels of sim­i­lar ac­tion by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Colorado, which has seen a surge in vol­un­teers and laid out how it plans to deal with any civil rights abuses linked to Trump or his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Since Trump’s elec­tion win, there have been re­ports of van­dal­ism and ha­rass­ment of peo­ple of color, the gay com­mu­nity, Mus­lims and even some women. It has caught the at­ten­tion of lo­cal, state and fed­eral law en­force­ment in Colorado and com­pelled them to make state­ments in ef­forts to calm and re­as­sure the pub­lic.

Trump’s cab­i­net nom­i­na­tions have also sparked fears of po­ten­tial civil rights vi­o­la­tions, specif­i­cally his pick of U.S. Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala., for at­tor­ney gen­eral as the na­tion’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer and Steve Ban­non as a top ad­viser.

A spokesman for the Colorado Repub­li­can party de­clined to com­ment.

The coali­tion so far is made up of at­tor­neys from the Den­ver metro area, but Lane says he ex-

pects its reach to be­come statewide. The group, which is call­ing it­self the Lawyers Civil Rights Coali­tion, is work­ing to build a web­site and set up a board of di­rec­tors.

In a news re­lease an­nounc­ing the coali­tion’s for­ma­tion, the groups said “Trump has openly called for the evis­cer­a­tion of the Bill of Rights. This coali­tion is de­signed to al­low civil rights lawyers all over Colorado to share in­for­ma­tion quickly with one an­other so that pat­terns of abuse can be rapidly iden­ti­fied and re- sponded to with im­me­di­ate court ac­tion.”

“It’s in­for­ma­tion shar­ing,” Lane said. “That’s the big­gest ad­van­tage here.”

Lane said by band­ing to­gether, the coali­tion’s at­tor­neys can help each other rec­og­nize broad pat­terns of civil rights abuses in the state. If vi­o­la­tions are oc­cur­ring on a broad scale, the coali­tion’s mem­bers can join forces, for in­stance, in a fed­eral suit.

“If we are all aware if (an abuse) is hap­pen­ing, then we see a pat­tern and can take im­me­di­ate ac­tion,” Lane said. “An in­di­vid­ual law firm or an in­di­vid­ual lawyer might not have this bird’s-eye view that there is this pat­tern.”

About a week af­ter Trump’s vic­tory, the ACLU of Colorado sent out a pe­ti­tion to mem­bers to make Colorado a civil lib­er­ties safe zone and ex­plain its postelection plans. About 3,000 peo­ple signed on and the or­ga­ni­za­tion posted the pe­ti­tion to the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

The pe­ti­tion says Trump has placed con­sti­tu­tional rights in se­ri­ous dan­ger. The ACLU of Colorado says it has also had more than 500 peo­ple sign up to be vol­un­teer ac­tivists since the elec­tion.

“That was our call to our mem­bers as far as our re­sponse to what we ex­pect to be do­ing over the next four years,” said John Krieger, a spokesman for the group.

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