Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley Should Be Disbarred, Over 8,000 Lawyers and Law Students Say

More than 8,000 lawyers and law students have signed a petition seeking the disbarring of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for what it calls their efforts to disenfranchise millions of American voters and overturn the results of a free and fair election.

Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Hawley, a Missouri Republican, led the effort in the Senate to object to President-elect Joe Biden's wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania when Congress counted the states' electoral votes last week. They based their objections on President Donald Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, which lack evidence and have been thoroughly litigated and rejected more than 50 times in state and federal courts.

Launched by students at Yale Law School, the petition calls on the bar associations of Texas, Missouri and Washington, D.C., to disbar the two senators. Over 1,900 of the signees are members of the bar associations in the two states and the nation's capitol. The petition cites the violent insurrection of Trump supporters who attacked the nation's Capitol last week, saying that Cruz's and Hawley's actions incited the mob.

"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," the petition says.

"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," it continues.

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley
From left, Senator Ted Cruz speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on October 26, 2020, while Senator Josh Hawley speaks during a Senate committee hearing on December 16. OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP/GREG NASH/Getty

"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 petition explains.

"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," the petition said.

The signees believe that Hawley and Cruz have demonstrated that they are "fundamentally unfit for membership in the legal profession." They argue that the two Republicans "have flagrantly violated some of the most elementary ethics rules governing the legal profession."

Ramis Wadood, a Yale Law School student involved with circulating the petition, said the response has been "overwhelmingly positive" and hasn't received "much substantive pushback" from supporters of the senators.

"The little pushback we have received has focused on whether disbarment is the proper accountability mechanism. We think it is (along with a number of other consequences, such as resignation or expulsion)," Wadood told Newsweek in an email Monday morning.

"Disbarment would send a message that Senators Hawley and Cruz's actions do not represent, and are unacceptable within, the legal profession," he said. Wadood also noted that the GOP lawmakers' "behavior is incompatible with the basic ethical rules of the legal profession that all members of the Bar" are required to follow.

Newsweek reached out to press representatives for Hawley and Cruz for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication.

Hawley and Cruz have been widely condemned for their actions. Prominent Republican lawmakers have said the two senators share at least part of the blame for the pro-Trump insurrection at the Capitol. A photo of Hawley raising his fist in support of the demonstrators before the assault has gone viral, with many interpreting this as the senator cheering on the violence. Newspapers in the senators' home states have condemned their actions, while a growing number of companies have said they will no longer donate to the senators or other Republicans that objected to Biden's state victories.

Both senators, as well as many other Republicans that objected to the election's certification last week, have released statements condemning the violent actions of the president's supporters. But many Americans, including some of their GOP colleagues, view these statements as disingenuous—especially since they continued to push Trump's unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud following the attack on the Capitol.

Pro-Trump rioters
Supporters of President Donald Trump—including Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter known for his painted face and horned hat—invade the U.S. Capitol on January 6. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

More than 50 lawsuits filed by Trump and his supporters in an effort to overturn the election results have failed in state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans have noted in their rulings that lawyers did not provide evidence to back their voter fraud claims.

Former Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, said at the beginning of December there was "no evidence" of any voter fraud that would change the election results. Barr resigned several weeks later. In November, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security asserted that there is "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, criticized Hawley and Cruz during a Sunday interview with NBC News' Meet the Press. Toomey said the men would "have a lot of soul-searching to do and the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen."

Updated January 11, 2020 at 5:59 p.m. ET: The number of the petition's signees has been updated in the text and headline of this article.