Critics are accusing the senators of using rhetoric that helped inflame a pro-Trump mob that engaged in acts of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as the vote-counting was underway. Both have rejected the accusations.
But alumni and students of the law schools that the men attended — Cruz is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Hawley of Yale Law School — and others have signed a petition over the past two days urging the Texas, Missouri and Washington bars to “immediately begin disbarment proceedings” against the two senators.
The petition (see text below), started by seven third-year Yale law students, had garnered more than 10,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, two of the organizers said.
Signatories include more than 2,500 members of the Washington D.C., Missouri, and Texas bars, the petition’s organizers said. Among those who signed are former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Harvard Law professors Laurence Tribe and Michael Klarman, as well as retired appeals court judge H. Lee Sarokin and former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter.
The Yale Law School students who started it, including Daniel Ki and Jenny Choi, said they decided to do because they did not think condemnation of Hawley and Cruz was enough.
“The senators’ actions to undermine democracy by spreading false claims of voter fraud and inciting insurrection violated the ethical and professional obligations of all members of the bar, and as aspiring lawyers, we thought it was important to speak up,” Ki said in an email.
“We decided to ask other law students and members of the bar to join in the call to begin immediate disbarment proceedings against Sens. Hawley and Cruz and have been inspired and heartened by the overwhelming response,” he said.
Here is the text of that petition, which was first reported by The American Prospect:
Petition to Disbar Senators Hawley & CruzAs of January 12, 2021 at 2PM ET, over 10,000 lawyers and law students have signed this petition, including over 2,500 members of the Missouri, Texas, and District of Columbia Bars.******We, the undersigned members and students of the legal profession, call on the Missouri, Texas, and District of Columbia Bars to immediately begin disbarment proceedings against Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz. In leading the efforts to undermine the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election, Senators Hawley and Cruz attacked the foundations of our democracy. Nearly 160 million Americans exercised their right to vote in the November 2020 election. Dozens of courts rejected unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, and the Electoral College formally ratified President-elect Biden’s victory on December 14, 2020. Despite these clear expressions of the will of the people—and with full knowledge of the implications of their actions—Senators Hawley and Cruz publicly announced their intentions to object to Congress’s certification of the Electoral College’s votes set for January 6, 2021.In doing so, Senators Hawley and Cruz directly incited the January 6th insurrection, repeating dangerous and unsubstantiated statements regarding the election and abetting the lawless behavior of President Trump. A violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol. Five people have died. The nation and the world watched as rioters took over the very halls and chambers that embody our democracy. Yet after the violence and terror of the day’s events, Senators Hawley and Cruz still chose to stand in the chamber of the U.S. Senate and persist in their baseless objections to the will of the people.These actions prove Senators Hawley and Cruz fundamentally unfit for membership in the legal profession. Both have flagrantly violated some of the most elementary ethics rules governing the legal profession. In inciting and encouraging a violent insurrection against the U.S. government, they have potentially committed “a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”  And by fanning the fury of aggrieved constituents through false claims of voter fraud, all for their own political gain, they have engaged in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Most importantly, lawyers who betray the very democratic institutions they are charged with protecting and improving as “public citizens”  are definitionally unfit for the legal profession. Senators Hawley and Cruz have shown that they have no respect for the courts by deliberately ignoring that judges across the country and the ideological spectrum have rejected President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. They have shown that they have no respect for the Constitution by violating its words when, as members of Congress, they arguably “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States.  Worst of all, they have shown that they have no respect for the American public and our democracy by working tirelessly to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters.Such egregious breaches of integrity matter. The very existence of our profession is symbiotic with the preservation and furtherance of the American republic. If Senators Hawley and Cruz’s actions do not result in any repercussions for their professional status as lawyers, that silence will send an unmistakable message to the rest of the legal community, to aspiring lawyers, and to the American public: that lawyers cannot be trusted with the task of protecting, let alone improving, our sacred democracy, and that lawyers can denigrate democratic institutions with impunity.The Missouri, Texas, and D.C. Bars must begin disbarment proceedings against Senators Hawley and Cruz and send the message that the legal profession stands firmly in defense of our democratic institutions. They must do so whether or not Senators Hawley and Cruz plan to assume the roles of advocate and counselor ever again, as private or public lawyers. It is the least our profession can do to protect and defend our most cherished ideals and institutions.****** Joshua D. Hawley is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Missouri. Rafael E. Cruz is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas. Both are members of the District of Columbia Bar. DC R RPC Rule 8.4(b); MO R BAR Rule 4-8.4(b); TX ST RPC Rule 8.04(a)(2); see, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 2101 (2018) (federal incitement to riot offense); D.C. Code § 22-1322 (2020) (municipal incitement to riot offense). DC R RPC Rule 8.4(c); MO R BAR Rule 4-8.4(c); TX ST RPC Rule 8.04(a)(3). Model Rules of Prof'l Conduct, pmbl. . U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 3.* Required
(This post has been updated with new numbers of signatories as well as additional information.)