Scott M. Karson, president of the New York State Bar Association, and 23 past presidents of the association, both Republicans and Democrats, issued the following statement today regarding President Donald Trump’s attempts to interfere with the lawful certification of the election results:
“The President of the United States is improperly using the power of his office to subvert the lawful certification of voting results in several states, and to encourage legislatures to appoint electors pledged to him despite his losing the popular vote in those states.
“The New York State Bar Association recognizes that the rule of law is one of the bedrock principles upon which our democracy is founded. The President’s blatant and unprecedented subversion of the rule of law cannot be allowed to proceed.
“State election regulators have the duty to certify the winner of the popular vote in their states in all elections; they do not have the discretion to ignore the votes that have been cast. Interference with state election regulators’ duties in this regard by the President and his allies appears to violate state and federal laws pertaining to the conduct of free and fair elections.
“Moreover, such improper conduct disenfranchises voters, besmirches the electoral process, undermines Americans’ faith in our democratic institutions and threatens a peaceful transition of power as prescribed by the United States Constitution.
“No state laws permit a legislature to substitute its will for that of the voters. Each state in this nation, for some 150 years, has authorized its voters to select presidential electors at the polls on Election Day. No state has a law that allows the legislature to ignore the will of the people or change the method of selection after that date. The Constitution obliges states to choose electors, but it does not contemplate that such legislatures may ignore the laws that they have enacted if the outcome of an election is not to their liking.
“Historians rightly credit President George Washington with establishing the precedent of a peaceful transition when he declined to run for a third term. When the new president, John Adams, lost his bid for re-election and stepped aside for the next president, Thomas Jefferson, the precedent of peaceful transition was firmly set. Subsequent to President Adams, nine other incumbent presidents lost re-election, and each followed his example by leaving office peacefully, no matter how contentious the election campaign might have been. Not one unsuccessful incumbent has ever refused to honor the results of the election or failed to facilitate the transition for the new president.
“President Trump, as the 11th incumbent to be ousted by the voters, has a solemn obligation to acknowledge that Joseph Biden is the president-elect. He must cease interfering with the certification process and allow the properly elected presidential electors to meet in mid-December to cast their ballots for our nation’s 46th president as they are duly required.”
The 23 past presidents who joined in the statement are: Henry M. Greenberg, the immediate past president; Michael Miller, Sharon Stern Gerstman, Claire P. Gutekunst, David P. Miranda, David M. Schraver, Seymour W. James, Jr., Vincent E. Doyle, III, Stephen P. Younger, Michael E. Getnick, Bernice K. Leber, Kathryn Grant Madigan, Mark H. Alcott, A. Vincent Buzard, A. Thomas Levin, James C. Moore, Joshua M. Pruzansky, M. Catherine Richardson, John P. Bracken, Robert L. Ostertag, Justin L. Vigdor, Alexander D. Forger and Anthony R. Palermo.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Susan DeSantis