Rarely Used KKK Act Could be Invoked

Holden James // BHS Maroon Tribune // Berthoud, CO // 03/02/2021

In 1871 a law was made by the United States Congress to keep the Ku Klux Klan out of politics. This act was made after the Civil War and was used to keep violent extremist groups like the KKK from threatening or intimidating people's voting rights and the practice of law. Almost 150 years later this act is still being pursued by the court system as radical groups still try to influence American politics.

Bennie Thompson, a democratic representative of Mississippi, is currently suing Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani following the Capital riots on January 6th, 2021. Mr. Thompson is suing the previous president with The 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act. The Ku Klux Klan Act was made to combat the klan's presence in the south following the freeing of slaves. The act states that no one should be allowed to force or intimidate or threaten people's voting rights and the right to hold office and the right to allow testimony in court. Bennie Thompson claims that the Capital riots violate the Ku Klux Klan Act made almost 50 years ago.

This lawsuit is also going after individuals of the “Proud Boys” and the “Oath Keepers” groups. Both groups are made up of far-right extremists that were involved with the Capital riots. Bennie Thompson’s lawyers claim that Trump had a role in the riots due to his Save America Rally that he held just before the riots were in place. Trump denies that he had anything to do with riots, but while at the rally he was recorded saying things like “if you don't fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” With pressure from government officials and media, the previous president posted a clip on his Twitter account. In this short video clip, Trump said things like, “We love you, you’re very special. We’ve seen what happened, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home…”

While the Ku Klux Klan Act is pretty rare to be used, this is the second time that Trump has been sued with it. The previous lawsuit happened also due to Trump trying to change the election results, which is prohibited due to the KKK Act. The NCAA legal team was the first person that tried to sue Trump with the KKK Act, this happened during the election of 2020. The NCAA legal team argued that Trump disenfranchised voters of color by trying to “Slow and stop the vote-counting efforts in tightly contested states.”

This trial could mean jail time for the previous president. Along with this trial, there are many more trials going on against Trump, including his involvement of attempting to pressure the governor of Georgia by saying “I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break”, along with other statements. As of writing, there is also a trial in New York looking at Trump's tax returns, his properties in Manhattan, and a 280 million dollar loan. This trial proceeds a previous trial that Trump faced in 2020 where the city of New York called for his tax returns because of “Fraudulent real estate practices”.

If this trial goes through it could be the first time that a President of the United States could serve jail time. How would this work, would the secret service have to be there? No one knows as this is unprecedented. The way the court decides what happens to this in response to the suing of a former president will go down as an important piece of US history.

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