Leading left-wing students and civil servants met this week at the American Constitution Society’s national convention, and the message was loud and clear: The “deep state” should be encouraged and expanded.
The “deep state” refers to the movement believed to exist within government to undermine President Donald Trump’s policy efforts by thwarting his goals, leaking information to the press and engaging in other subversive activities.
"We hear a lot of language about draining the swamp and this idea about a deep state that somehow was going to thwart the intentions or the political mandate of the president," UCLA law professor Jon Michaels said, according to a report by the Washington Examiner’s Ryan Lovelace. "I kind of embrace this notion of the ‘deep state.'"
"It's hard to figure out exactly what , I don't think we've hit our stride on that," Michaels said. "But from my understanding people are still kind of probing and poking around at what can be done and the creativity and resourcefulness of people is in some ways boundless and so I imagine what I would hope to see is kind of organic — ‘loyal opposition’ is probably too strong — but ways of having well-prepared, well-defined boundaries of opposition."
"The election of Donald Trump was an assault on the federal bureaucracy," said William Yeomans, an American University law professor who previously worked at the Justice Department, according to the Examiner. "His values are simply not consistent with the values of people who are committed to public service and who believe deeply in the importance of public service."
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the conference senators should actively work to deny federal judges Trump appoints by using “blue-slip” procedural guidelines. The Senate’s blue-slip procedure allows, as a courtesy, a state’s senators, regardless of political affiliation, to have significant power in determining whether federal judges appointed for that state should be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We cannot become a rubber stamp for the president's nominees and we must fight to prevent erosion of quality and independence of the federal judiciary," Hirono said, according to a separate report by Lovelace for the Examiner.
In addition to several speeches praising the deep state and suggesting ways to stop Trump’s agenda, the conference’s website states attendees were given “training sessions” meant to help people “stand up to the new administration’s attacks on our rights and constitutional order.”
“ACS’s National Convention is the premier progressive legal event of the year, attracting nearly 1,000 of the nation’s leading progressive lawyers, scholars, policymakers, judges, and law students,” the conference’s website states. “The convention provides a unique opportunity to learn about pressing legal issues from renowned experts while networking with legal leaders from across the country. This year’s convention will include panel discussions on a wide range of timely topics and introduce a new Saturday format focusing on training sessions to help attendees stand up to the new administration’s attacks on our rights and our constitutional order.”
Other speakers at the conference included Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who did not speak about the deep state, and “constitutional rights advocate” Khizr Khan, the Muslim lawyer who famously criticized Trump during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, leading to a controversial response from then-candidate Trump.