Trump, Lawyer Regulation, and the Institutional Double Bind


Scandals, news stories, and court setbacks that would have devastated other, more traditional Presidents have seemingly only made Donald Trump’s bond with his supporters stronger. This creates a challenge when institutions try to punish anyone in Trump’s orbit. Taking action against Trump only encourages his supporters, while inaction may lessen the left’s faith in institutions and leave opponents of President Trump wondering why nothing is being done to curtail what they see as flagrant criminal contempt. This is a problem the author calls the “institutional double bind.” This Essay discusses whether there is any solution for these institutions stuck in the double bind. The author argues that one modest suggestion is for these institutions to do better. Portions of the public would be less likely to cry “politics” or “witch hunt” if the institution itself was better run and better respected. This is easier said than done, but still, stronger institutions are more resistant to attack, and as a side benefit, they are also better than weak, secretive institutions, which sadly lawyer discipline has been for decades.


Scandal, President, Trump, Donald, Supporters, Politics, Inaction, Punishment, Institutions, Agencies, Witch hunt, public, Respect, Lawyer Discipline, Ethics, Committee



Benjamin H. Barton (University of Tennessee College of Law)



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