What is the Ku Klux Klan Act? Trump, Rudy Giuliani sued by civil rights group for allegedly breaking 1870 law

NAACP has charged Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers of misinforming 'their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence' during Capitol riots

                            What is the Ku Klux Klan Act? Trump, Rudy Giuliani sued by civil rights group for allegedly breaking 1870 law
Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been sued for allegedly violating the Ku Klux Klan Act (Getty Images)

After the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, a civil rights group, NAACP, has sued him and his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, claiming that they have violated the Ku Klux Klan Act — a Reconstruction-era statute designed in 1870 to protect lawmakers in Congress and formerly enslaved African-Americans from white supremacist violence.

The lawsuit is filed by the NAACP and Civil Rights Law Firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which contends that Trump and his lawyer Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act that includes protections against violent conspiracies. The lawsuit accuses Trump, Giuliani, and two far right-wing groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol on January 6.


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“Defendants Trump, Giuliani, Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers plotted, coordinated, and executed a common plan to prevent Congress from discharging its official duties in certifying the results of the presidential election,” reads the lawsuit. “Defendants Trump and Giuliani engaged in a concerted campaign to misinform their supporters and the public, encouraging and promoting intimidation and violence in furtherance of their common plan to promote the re-election of Defendant Trump, even after the states had certified election results decisively showing he lost the election, and to disrupt the legally required process before Congress to supervise the counting of the Electoral College ballots and certify the results of that count.”

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces (Getty Images)

What is the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1870?

The Enforcement Act of 1870, commonly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act or Force Act, was a United States federal law that empowered the sitting president to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment’s first section. Ku Klux Klan Act is the first of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress in 1870 and 1871 to combat attacks on the voting rights of African-Americans from state officials or violent right-wing groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

As per Senate.gov, in 1870, Senator Oliver HPT Morton introduced a resolution requesting the president to communicate any information he had about incidents of threatened resistance to the execution of the laws of the United States. After the Senate looked into Morton’s resolution, President Ulysses S Grant submitted reports to War Department that had information pertaining to events happening in southern states.

Ulysses Simpson Grant (Getty Images)

The Ku Klux Klan Act has mainly five provisions. Under Section 2, no person may be disenfranchised on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. As per Section 3, the United States President had full rights to use the armed forces and state militia to put down any rebellions. Section 4 states that the habeas corpus — a recourse in law through which a person can report unlawful detention to a court — would be suspended. As per Section 5, the jurors in the United States courts must not be involved in any conspiracies; and Section 6 states that if any two or more people work together to violate the Act deliberately, they will be charged with a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of ten years.

Trump’s adviser, Jason Miller, has responded to the lawsuit by stating that the Senate has already acquitted the former president of the article of impeachment that proves that “President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan 6”.

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