The Green Scare and the New McCarthyism: A Response to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Below is my column in the Daily Beast responding to the attack launched by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) during my testimony in the first hearing of the impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Joseph Biden. Krishnamoorthi falsely suggested that I represented and supported Tom Green, a polygamist who was convicted of child rape. While I attempted to explain that that was untrue, Krishnamoorthi would not allow me to finish and then quickly left the hearing room. I never represented Green, I condemned Green in those columns, and said that he was justifiably prosecuted. The columns dealt with my opposition to “morality legislation.” I was representing The Sister Wives family both during a criminal investigation and my later challenge to the underlying law. I continue to oppose such laws that have been used against a wide range of religious and social groups, including LGBT individuals. I never thought that a liberal Democrat would attack me for such pro bono representation in support of civil liberties.

Most people saw the smear effort for what it was, but it is a moment worth revisiting. I assume that Krishnamoorthi knew that his attack was false, but it did not matter in the current environment. It is illustrative of how civil public discourse has been supplanted by trash talking, even in Congress during an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States.

It was not exactly a return to the Red Scare . . . more of a Green Scare. During the Red Scare, lawyers were also attacked for taking civil liberties cases on behalf of unpopular clients. The only thing missing this week was a McCarthyesque moment of Krishnamoorthi waving his papers and demanding if I am or ever was a polygamist.

Here is the column:

When I was called to testify at yesterday’s first hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, I had no illusions.

Roughly 25 years ago, I testified at the hearing in the Clinton impeachment. Four years ago, I testified at the hearing in the first Trump impeachment. Each was followed by death threats and personal attacks.

In an example of hope over experience, I reminded the congressional members this week that these “are constitutional moments that demand the best from each of us in transcending the passions and politics of time.” I warned that this toxic environment begins with how members treat this moment and “members can choose to be either potent teachers for civil discourse or political rage.”

One such member quickly rose to make his choice: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) chose rage.

In my testimony, I laid out the constitutional and historical baseline for impeachment inquiries. While I stated that I do not believe that the current evidence would support an actual article of impeachment, I testified that the evidence clearly satisfied the threshold for an impeachment inquiry and, if these allegations are established, President Biden could be impeached.

I was immediately criticized by figures like former Trump White House senior adviser Steve Bannon for reserving judgment on any impeachable conduct, and by Rep. Krishnamoorthi for even suggesting that the House should determine if such conduct has occurred.

However, Krishnamoorthi did not challenge my analysis. He attacked me personally. In a truly bizarre moment, Krishnamoorthi denounced me as a defender of a criminal child molester and polygamist.

Krishnamoorthi waved around a copy of a 2006 op-ed in The Guardian and an op-ed in USA Today to paint me as a supporter of Tom Green, a polygamist who was convicted of child rape.

It was untrue and I attempted to respond, but Krishnamoorthi refused. He then quickly left the hearing.

It took me about 30 minutes for another member to kindly allow me to set the record straight. Even if Krishnamoorthi and his colleagues were not interested in the truth, I felt that the public deserved to know. Certainly my three children sitting behind me deserved to know.

In 2006, I was representing the “Sister Wives” family—first in a criminal investigation into polygamy and then in an action challenging the underlying statute. I have spent my entire career opposing “morality legislation” criminalizing consensual relations between adults. For decades, I opposed the criminalization of homosexuality and supported same-sex marriage. As someone with libertarian views, I oppose society mandating moral codes to be imposed on individuals. These laws have often targeted religious and social minorities, including members of the LGBT community.

We prevailed in the Sister Wives lawsuit and the law was found unconstitutional. (The decision was later set aside on appeal on technical grounds.)

Moreover, in the columns cited, I did not defend polygamy as a practice. In one I stated, “I detest polygamy.” I condemned Green as “properly prosecuted for a child sex crime—just as a person in a monogamous marriage would be prosecuted.”

I was opposing such morality laws as dictating private consensual relations between adults and conflicting with similar relations by merely adulterous couples.

It was strange to have a liberal Democrat attack me for such work, but Krishnamoorthi clearly knew all of this when he started waving around the “evidence” that I was a pedophilic fellow traveler.

As I said to the Committee, the attack would not work. It would not stop this inquiry or change the underlying constitutional standards. It would not help shield the president from an investigation that the majority of the public supports.

However, it was a defining moment. This is a constitutional process that the public expects to be carried out with a modicum of solemnity and respect. It is a process that demands integrity and, yesterday, the public was watching.

Former Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) used the same smears and bullying tactics. Back then, he was waving around lists of names of people who were to be blacklisted and condemned for holding opposing views.

I previously wrote how Democrats are increasingly adopting the tactics once used against the left during the Red Scare, including the use of blacklists and personal attacks to silence critics. JournalistsFBI agentsprosecutors, and whistleblowers have all been subject to these same ad hominem attacks.

After a hearing in Feb. 2023 where I testified on the government’s censorship efforts, MSNBC contributor and former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) denounced fellow witnesses Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) as “Putin apologists.” (For the record, she also attacked me as not being “a real lawyer.”)

In one of the lowest moments, Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)—during her commencement speech at the law school at which I teach—accused me of wrongful conduct in an address to the faculty and students. Her allegation was that I changed my position on the necessity of criminal conduct in the Trump impeachment after saying that the House could impeach for non-criminal conduct in the Clinton impeachment.

It was demonstrably false. Not only did I repeatedly state in the Trump impeachment that the House could impeach for non-criminal conduct, the Democratic Chair and House managers relied on that testimony in both the impeachment and later Senate trial. (Rep. Wild never apologized.)

Likewise, not a single Democratic member objected to Krishnamoorthi’s tactics or offered me an opportunity to correct the record. The point was not whether it was true. It was one more sorry sordid moment in our politics of personal destruction.

In my testimony, I told members that we should be able to discuss these issues without another race to the bottom of slanders and smears: “We can disagree, but we need not hate each other.” Rep. Krishnamoorthi clearly wanted to win that race.

Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by example.”

The license that some feel to engage in hateful rhetoric and personal attacks is the result of how members treat this moment. We have become a nation addicted to rage and members like Rep. Krishnamoorthi only inject more of that bitter bile into the body politic.

Again, it won’t work and the public is watching.

65 thoughts on “The Green Scare and the New McCarthyism: A Response to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi”

  1. The media loves to continue to tarnish & keep alive the false characterization of Senator Joe McCarthy. Too bad Turley does it too.
    The House UnAmerican committee did indeed reveal communist infiltrator’s masquerading in the US government, & a bevy of similar charlatans in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Senator McCarthy was *vindicated* when the Venona Papers were released, but no one wants to change the bad press template.
    Senator McCarthy, the UnAmerican committee & Congress blacklisted nobody. That’s right! Hollywood blacklist their own people. Patrick J. Buchanan spelled it all out in his book…..

    1. What jewish machinations? I didn’t get the memo.

      It is an obligation to call out and speak out against racial, religious, ethnic falsehoods and attacks. Got a problem with an individual or organization, be specific. Don’t let them or yourself hide behind your own hate.

  2. It’s the new communist Democratic Party. There is no debate, reasoning, or discussion. They tell you how it is, never let you talk, and then they leave. Kinda like Hitler and the Nazi Party.

  3. “While I attempted to explain that that was untrue, Krishnamoorthi would not allow me to finish and then quickly left the hearing room. I never represented Green, I condemned Green in those columns, and said that he was justifiably prosecuted. The columns dealt with my opposition to “morality legislation.” ”
    You were unfairly castigated but the truth is that almost all criminal law can be boiled down to the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments. Greed sexual jealously, lying for advantage are the motivations of most crime and to suggest morality deosn’t serve as the basis for our consternation at those human traits seems a tad disengenuous.

    1. Other than being at least twenty-five years of age, a United States citizen for seven years, and an inhabitant of the state from which he or she is elected at the time of election and not having been disqualified by reason of previously taking any federal or state oath swearing to support the Constitution, but later took part in a rebellion or otherwise aided any enemy of the U.S.–having a functional brain and a measurable level of intelligence is not a consideration.

      An x-ray technician has licensing requirements that exceed that of a U.S. Representative or Senator to perform their jobs. Yet at a worst case a wayward x-ray tech can only adversely irradiate one victim patient at a time. Federal politicians on the other hand set nuclear weapons policy and through recklessness and indifference could irradiate millions. But the x-ray tech is held to a standard. Politicians not so much. That is why they fail and populations suffer the consequences. Bad x-ray tech loses career through license revocation, politician usually gets away with slaps on the wrist and is reelected.

  4. Don’t Back-Down, Professor!

    You told the committee what they needed to hear. That the evidence for impeachment is not completely there. You were widely quoted in mainstream media for saying just that.

    Which explains today’s column. Turley has gotten blowback from furious Republicans. They’ve been howling since Thursday, leaving angry voicemails. Some of which are truly menacing!

    So now Turley is partially walking-it-back. He didn’t mean to suggest the inquiry is just a fishing trip. No, no, no, Turley never meant that! ‘Joe Biden took part in serious shenanigans. It’s only a matter of finding the right, smoking gun’.

    It illustrates the conflict of playing law professor while moonlighting for Fox. One can’t present themself as a serious academic while defending network talking points. And these comment threads reflect that. Serious political discussions allow ‘liberal trolls’ way too much input.

    Too much liberal input muddies rightwing narratives. So a gatekeeper is needed to shag liberals off. Some mean-spirited creep to discourage discussions. Turley had to find one so debates didn’t develop on these comment threads. And ‘yes’, that conflicts with Turley’s academic duties.

  5. From the Democratic Congressional and new’s media commentary, including by Neil Cavuto of Fox News, it was shocking to think that educated people could twist the purpose of the hearing from laying the predict for an impeachment investigation, into a failed fact finding exercise.

    More evidence that a college education is not all it’s cracked up to be!

    1. Good point Ken that the keyboard warriors forget all to often with how politics actually works. An impeachment inquiry is akin to the investigation phase of civil/criminal trials. Any credible evidence produced is presented to the the respective Attorney General for final decision on whether to prosecute or not. The House of Reps. has no power in just holding hearings, they are just for camera face-time to fool their constituents into thinking they are working for them. Now, when adding the words investigation inquiry they gain the power of subpoena that can actually be enforced, not ignored as in a hearing setting.

  6. Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by example.”

    go back further. The Founding Fathers were unequivocal, despite having different belief systems, that morality, virtue and religion are indispensable for our government to work. Our government is comprised of men. When men fail, as they surely do and always have since day 1, systems that depend on men will collapse. We are there. What does not collapse is having a people mindful of their place in the grand scheme of the universe, i.e. humility, of what they are and what they are not. You were mistreated once again by a Member of Congress, a Democrat this time around, but Democrats hardly own the market when it comes to hubris. Our national sense of temperance is non-existent. Deference, self-control, introspection, are rejected for the triumph of the id and impulsive behavior.

    Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 12 October 1813

    We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus,….. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.

    President George Washington:
    Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789
    By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

    Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

    When these are missing, the government is sede vacante

    1. “. . . systems that depend on men . . .”

      That system that (allegedly) does *not* depend on men is called a theocracy.

  7. Why do Democrats and the Left generally so eagerly resort to the politics of personal destruction? Because they fear a real contest of ideas and a free discussion of the problems which face our country.

    1. Why do Democrats and the Left generally so eagerly resort to the politics of personal destruction?

      It’s not just the Left. Our nation is in a death spiral when it comes to extended family, nuclear family, child rearing, personal self-care/health, suicidality, depression, hopelessness, anxiety….Surely you already know these things.

      It’s Neanderthal, primal, uncivilized, shows lack of education, a caving to appetites, hubris, lack of consideration for others, the same reasons the Roman Empire fell. Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Envy, Greed, Lust. Read the Good Book. It’s all there, and has been for thousands of years

  8. So Raja is the best that voters in Illinois could elect to the USA’s House of Representatives? Raja is a scary person to be in any elected office; double that for voters who put him in this one.

  9. To introduce a politically valuable “common enemy,” Biden labeled actual Americans “white supremacists” and “white nationalists.”

    Imagine white Americans (e.g. redundant) being persona non grata in the United States of America—oh, my apologies, I forgot they are now the “fundamentally transformed (e.g. invaded and conquered) United States of America,” having counterintuitively and inexplicably suffered that fate at the hands of an eminently ineligible son of a foreign-citizen father.

    Were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, George Mason, John Jay, Ben Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Richard Henry Lee, et al. “white nationalists” and “white supremacists?”

    Well, God did make them white.

    And one may safely presume that those who created and established the United States of America were loyal and fervent supporters of their nation, aka nationalists.

    Supremacy?  All must agree that their supremacy in establishing self-governance through the Constitution and Bill of Rights was and remains, as Merriam-Webster defines it, “the highest in rank or authority, greatest in degree, quality, or intensity, and characterized by the highest excellence or achievement.”

    All must agree that American self-governance through the Constitution and Bill of Rights succeeded above all other nations.

    Can anyone blame them?

  10. I guess there always have been repugnant people in Congress. There just seem to be more of them these days. Add Rep. Krishnamoorthi to that list.

  11. You shouldn’t be surprised Professor Turley. They pull a lever and they get a pellet. They’ve been conditioned to get the pellet since college. Once they’ve learned how to get the pellet they never forget. They’re also very adept at shuffling through the maze to find the lever. They’ve even learned how to speak to get their food.

  12. This is off topic but did anyone else see the video of SECRETARY OF STATE Blinken playing the guitar in order to usher in some new “music will lead us all through diversity” or some other such nonsense? It is so cringeworthy seeing this goof in a suit and tie trying to sound like Muddy Waters or some Mississippi blues singer from the early 20th century.

    What I would love is if one of you tech savvy folks could show Blinken and then add a clip of John Belushi in Animal House destroying some idiot’s guitar for just such an auditory offense. I would do it but sadly I don’t know how.

  13. I watched the hearing. As always, you were professional and emotionally stable, full of reason and common sense, in addition to your deep knowledge of our laws. Some of the democrats are just not good people. They have no moral compass telling them to attack appropriately. The dems now in power, and I thought Pelosi was the queen of this….they do not care about civility, other peoples’ feelings, telling the truth, being distinguished while serving the people. They care only about power. Maybe life will teach these folks how to behave. Maybe not. You, Professor, did your part with class, as always.

    1. .they do not care about civility, other peoples’ feelings, telling the truth, being distinguished while serving the people
      That applies to many including #45

    2. “Maybe life will teach these folks how to behave.”

      Not likely, since they are all too old by now to serve a tour of duty on a Submarine. They would have been “calibrated” there.

  14. The end, the unconstitutional communist welfare state, justifies any means, according to the communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs).

    Communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs) are equivocators, prevaricators, liars, and thieves, the very same heinous Bolsheviks who slaughtered the Romanov Family in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

    The communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs, AINOs) , through various means, stole the 2020 election from Real President Donald J. Trump.

    To wit,

    “AG Pax­ton Sues Bat­tle­ground States for Uncon­sti­tu­tion­al Changes to 2020 Elec­tion Laws”

    “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a lawsuit against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the United States Supreme Court. The four states exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws and unlawfully enacting last-minute changes, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election. The battleground states flooded their people with unlawful ballot applications and ballots while ignoring statutory requirements as to how they were received, evaluated and counted.”

    – Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas

    1. Here’s a guy who gets it—the Constitution, that is. The Constitution severely limits and restricts government, not individuals. The Constitution and Bill of Rights provide any and all conceivable, natural, and God-given rights and freedoms to individuals.

      Personal relationships are the decisions and properties of individuals, not the government.

      Polygamy is a right and a freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, in particular the 9th Amendment.

      That one or some don’t like polygamy does not constitute, establish, or suggest a statutory or fundamental law under the Constitution.

      The right to and freedom of substance ingestion, et al., are not dissimilar in the least.

      9th Amendment

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people

    2. Why is same sex marriage moral but polygamy is immoral?

      Because its politically expedient at this time. When it is no longer expedient, it will no longer be immoral.

      Ask Dennis when he stopped opposing gay marriage and if it was before or after Obama, Clinton, and Biden.

    3. An excellent question — which those who support marriage licenses for same sex twosomes — cannot answer in any intelligent way.

      1. An excellent question — which those who support marriage licenses for same sex twosomes — cannot answer in any intelligent way.

        Spare us with the faux wailing in how marriage is a Sacrament. Marriage in America was destroyed by heterosexuals decades ago, not that conservatives can answer intelligently why Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Lauren Boerbert, MTG, etc, etc, etc get a pass.

  15. If you want honest, civil discourse then all you have to do is bring back virtue as the highest value. When honor was the highest value, and a gentleman of stature felt his honor had been wrongly impugned, he’d invite the scoundrel to a duel.

    Bring back consensual, honor-based duels.

    1. Very interesting response. I kind of like it. It would return America back to the 1700-1800’s but that might not be such a bad thing. Nothing like a good old fashioned fencing duel or one with pistols to end the argument. I think we should ask Alexander Hamilton. Wait a minute . . . he might be hard to contact, even back then.

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