Who is Steven Calabresi and what's Federalist Society? How Trump's poll delay tactic has his friends turning foes

The former Trump supporter has hit back at the president's suggestion of an election delay, through his opinion piece

                            Who is Steven Calabresi and what's Federalist Society? How Trump's poll delay tactic has his friends turning foes
Steven Calabresi and Donald Trump (Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law/ Getty Images)

President Donald Trump courting controversy and sparking debates through his tweets is not uncommon. But his latest tweet regarding possibly delaying elections seems to have led to an online debate. Steven G Calabresi, a former Trump supporter and the co-founder of the Federalist Society, has joined in the argument to call for the president’s impeachment.

On July 30, Trump wrote: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" There have been earlier reports which suggested that Trump was not in favor of main-in voting.


In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, Trump was asked how he would handle the election, given his disastrous polling of late. "First of all, I'm not losing, because those polls are fake," Trump replied. "They were fake."

Now, Calabresi has hit back at him through an opinion column in The New York Times. Calabresi is Clayton J and Henry R Barber Professor of Law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. The Yale Law School alumnus, along with his Yale College friends, Lee Liberman Otis and David McIntosh, founded the Yale chapter of the Federalist Society in 1982 — one of three original chapters of the Society. The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, most frequently called the Federalist Society, is an organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution. It is considered to be one of the nation's most influential legal organizations. In 2019, he was chairman of the Society's board of directors.

In the opinion piece, Calabresi wrote that he voted for the Republicans since 1980 and wrote an op-ed opposing Trump’s impeachment, but he was “appalled” by the president’s tweet on July 30. He said that he used to think Democrats were exaggerating when they called him fascist, but, in the opinion piece he wrote, "This latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate."

He went on to explain that the nation has faced many difficulties earlier as well, like it is now with the spread of coronavirus, but an election has never been delayed. He wrote, "It is up to each of the 50 states whether to allow universal mail-in voting and Article II of the Constitution explicitly gives the states total power over the selection of presidential electors." He further stated that Election Day was fixed by a federal law passed in 1845 and the Constitution itself in the 20th Amendment specifies that the newly-elected Congress meet at noon on January 3, 2021, and that the terms of the President and Vice President end at noon on January 20, 2021. If no newly elected president is available, the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes acting president.

The professor pointed out, "President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again."

According to a CNN report, Trump's representatives had previously mocked at Democrats suggesting that he would attempt to delay the election, claiming they were unfounded conspiracies. His tweet on July 30 marks the first time Trump has openly raised the idea of moving the date of voting. However, according to the report, his campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said, "The President is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting."

The same report has Trump’s administrative team contradict what the president seems to suggest and have concern over. Asked about the issue in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 28, Attorney General William Barr said he had "no reason to think" that the upcoming election will be "rigged". But he did say he believes that "if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud".

According to CNN, historically, voting by mail has not led to massive voter fraud. And nonpartisan election experts say the possibility of foreign entities printing millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots this November is highly unlikely. Responding on July 30, both Republicans and Democrats said Trump's suggestion was a non-starter. The report quotes, "I don't think that's a particularly good idea," said Senator Lindsey Graham, a top ally of the president. "I think that's probably a statement that gets some press attention, but I doubt it gets any serious traction," said Senator John Thune, the Senate Republican whip.

Twitter had opinions as well. One said, "What he needs to be told is that he has to stop putting the election in doubt… same thing he did in 16… It was going be the most rigged election in history until the rigging went in his favor… he just wants to sow distrust because he knows he’s going to lose 'bigly'."


Another said, "Voter fraud is a Republican tactic to pass laws that restrict voting rights. There are more deaths by lawnmowers than prosecuted cases of fraud. Voting by mail is perfectly good enough for Donald Trump and his family, but not the American people. Fight COVID. Vote by mail!" 


Another commented, "Wow, you are scared S****ESS of mail-in voting, and you're not even trying to hide it. TOO BAD. Only Congress can change the date of the election, Spanky! November 3rd will be the OFFICIAL date of your demise."


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