The last time we checked in on GWU Law’s Jonathan Turley, I posited that he may not be as stupid as his writings, comments, or general persona indicates. He couldn’t really be this stupid, I reasoned, suggesting instead that Turley was just “crazy like a fox” and trying to guarantee that no law student ever takes one of his courses again, freeing him from the tedium of grading papers.
But, no, he seems like he might just be an idiot.
Consider his reaction to yesterday’s EPA opinion.
All right, that’s not entirely inaccurate if disingenuous. But that ellipse sits there as a haunting invitation to proceed into Turley’s personal brand of madness.
Curious, indeed! It’s almost as though Congress set up the nation’s environmental laws with the express intention of not shutting down the lawmaking apparatus of the United States to constantly quibble over specifics.
It’s not “like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach,” but like being told “we’ve shut off the running water so you can experience the satisfaction of marching into town to draw from the old well.” Congress used its power to establish this regime — the only one circumventing the power of Congress is the Supreme Court.
This guy’s said some monstrously stupid stuff before — OFTEN! — but he’s acting shocked and bewildered by basic legal concepts. Either he’s gone to Beast Mode levels of cynical mendacity or he’s losing his grip on the subject matter as time goes on.
And yet this isn’t the dumbest thing he said this week.
During the most recent January 6 hearing, Turley tweeted:
Yeah… that’s how this works. Are there people who never saw Jed Bartlet get overruled by Ron Butterfield when the president wanted to take his agent to a hospital?
About 10 minutes after these tweets he started to backpedal a bit and acknowledged “…Again, the position of the security team was commendable. They are tasked with keeping the President safe and refused to take him into a dangerous area.” It seemed that someone who hadn’t had a commonsensectomy got to Turley and put him on track.
This proved short-lived.
Turley went to the shockingly non-discerning editorial staff at The Hill and published this effort to bridge the gap between reality and his fever dreams:
It is unclear, though, what the Secret Service would have done if the president got out and tried to join his supporters in marching to the Capitol. The agents absolutely were correct that by doing so he would have put himself in danger — but the Secret Service cannot control the presidency by limiting the movement of a president. Otherwise, it can look like a modern Roman Praetorian Guard accused of dictating outcomes or events.
It’s Bobby Engel not Jaime Lannister. Telling the president not to walk into a mob where — and I cannot stress this enough — multiple people were killed is not even in the same gladiatorial amphitheater as the Praetorian Guard offing Caligula.
In the end, the security team was correct on the merits but probably wrong on the law. This was not an unlawful order, and a president must be able to control his own travel. In other words, the agents were wrong for all the right reasons.
What in the actual fuck is he even talking about? Presidents are not gods, Johnny Boy. The Secret Service is mandated by law to protect the president and vice president. While federal law authorizes the Secret Service to protect other categories of individuals too, everyone other than the president and vice president may decline protection. But a president can’t unilaterally reject the protection of the Secret Service just like the president can’t reject other laws on a whim. It’s designed that way so the country isn’t plunged into a national security nightmare because a sundowning real estate developer decides to second guess law enforcement professionals.
In a similar vein, maybe Turley could use some professional assistance too. Perhaps someone to hold his phone the next time he thinks about tweeting legal analysis without bothering to perform even cursory research into how the Secret Service works?
Just a thought.
Earlier: Jonathan Turley Sums Up January 6 Hearings Like He Didn’t Watch January 6 Hearings
Jonathan Turley Called Out For Using Law For ‘Wrongful Ends.’ As If Selling Out For Publicity Is Wrongful!
‘Legal Experts’ Need To Stop Deliberately Misleading People About The First Amendment
Remember When Martin Luther King Was Arrested? Because Jonathan Turley Sure Doesn’t!
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.