One of President Trump’s main lines of defense for Brett M. Kavanaugh, his nominee to the Supreme Court, was that to deny him the seat without producing evidence of a crime would violate the tradition of due process, a foundation of American law that includes the rights of the accused to have fair treatment.
But when it comes to the women who have stood in the way of the president’s goals, Trump’s supporters want to skip straight to the punishment. The “Lock her up!” chants that have been a fixture of his political rallies since the campaign days have been getting a new use in the past few weeks. A crowd in Mississippi chanted it last week in response to Trump’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school. On Tuesday, a crowd in Iowa chanted it after a reference to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who referred Ford’s letter about the allegations to the FBI.
Trump’s “due process” defense of his allies who are accused of bad behavior is not new to the Kavanaugh situation. “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Trump tweeted earlier this year after allegations surfaced that his staff secretary, Rob Porter, had physically abused two ex-wives.
Over the past several years, Trump has regularly defended himself and other conservatives, including former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly when they were accused of sexual harassment, at times calling the accusations against the men unfair. He picked up the thread again after Ford and two other women made sexual misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump supporters would regularly chant “Lock her up!” when the president mentioned Hillary Clinton’s name. There have also been times when Trump supporters began the chant unsolicited.
There has been plenty of chatter about whether to take Trump’s and his supporters' words literally or not. It is obviously unclear how many of those at the rally believe that Ford should literally be locked up, how many think she should suffer consequences for her words against Kavanaugh and how many were just swept up in the sentiment.
Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be a highly partisan president, regularly attacking the Democrats for not backing his nominees, policy ideas and his overall approach to governing. But it now seems that those who support Trump most are willing to withhold fairness when questions about justice are on the table — if the individual in question is a liberal or a critic of a conservative.