Rudy Giuliani “weaponized his law license” in an assault on the Constitution that he took an oath to uphold, the D.C. disciplinary counsel charged at the start of the former New York City mayor’s attorney misconduct hearing on Monday.
“Nobody would disagree that the right to vote is fundamental,” disciplinary counsel Hamilton Fox noted in his opening statement in Giuliani’s disciplinary hearing. “Not much written about it in the Constitution, but we’ve amended the Constitution three times.”
Those were the 15th Amendment, expanding the vote to Black men freed from slavery; the 19th Amendment, which enshrined women’s suffrage; and 26th Amendment, which held that the right to vote should not be abridged on account of age for all over 18 years old.
Noting that people marched, protested and died for the ballot, Fox said: “Mr. Giuliani was responsible for filing a frivolous action asking a court in Pennsylvania to deny millions of people the right to vote.”
The D.C. Bar accuses Giuliani of conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice for spearheading a nationwide effort to overturn former President Donald Trump’s defeat. Monday’s hearing focused in particular on Giuliani’s “frivolous” lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania, which Fox noted was the only case that the former mayor “personally litigated.”
Like dozens of Trump surrogates and allies, Giuliani requested audacious and even unprecedented judicial action. At minimum, Fox noted, Giuliani wanted a federal judge to throw out some 680,000 mail-in ballots, and the maximum relief called for invalidated the roughly 7 million ballots entirely, handing the decision to the state legislature.
“A constitutional democracy like ours does not work unless the loser honors the decision of the voters,” Fox said, noting that no other court in U.S. history had ever considered such a remedy.
Despite his bluster at a press conference outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping, Giuliani quickly conceded that his Pennsylvania election lawsuit was “not a voter fraud case.”
Displaying an image from a court ruling, Fox noted that the judge found that voter fraud had not been alleged, let alone proven.
“The Campaign never alleges that any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter,” that passage from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, led by Trump-appointed U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, noted.
Giuliani flubbed basic legal concepts during oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, who quizzed the Trump lawyer about what level of scrutiny he should apply to the constitutional questions presented.
Giuliani replied, to widespread derision inside the legal community, “normal scrutiny.” The three standards are strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, and rational basis review.
In July 2021, the D.C. Court of Appeals suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law in that jurisdiction, and the D.C. Board of Professional Responsibility launched its disciplinary action roughly a year later.
As the case progressed, Giuliani appeared to double-down on his election denialism, seeking to call a series of pro-Trump witnesses deeply involved int he election overturning efforts. They included failed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, ex-One America News host and Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis and ex-Trump advisor Peter Navarro. Bar regulators objected to some of these witnesses.
According to the board’s calendar, the proceedings are expected to last roughly two weeks.
Attorneys John Leventhal and Barry Kamins represent Giuliani from the law firm Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins.
During his opening statement, Levanthal noted that the lower count judge did not sanction Giuliani’s action as frivolous.
Presiding over the proceedings is the board’s chair Robert C. Bernius, a now-retired general counsel and litigation partner at Nixon Peabody LLP.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
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