Chapman University professor under fire for joining Trump’s legal team

A Chapman University law professor is under fire by faculty members after representing President Donald Trump in one of his election lawsuits.

At least 159 faculty members at Chapman signed a statement saying the professor's actions are an "attack on American democracy."

John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in Irvine, California, represented President Donald Trump in one of his latest election lawsuits, and is now under fire by faculty who think his connection to the legal challenge is an “attack on American democracy.”

The latest lawsuit, filed by Texas and 17 other states, asked the Supreme Court to block four key states from certifying Joe Biden as the declared winner of the electoral college.

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In an announcement from Chapman University President Daniele Struppa attempted to distance the university from Eastman and criticized the professor for using his university contact information in the court filing.

“Chapman University is being connected in the national media to a lawsuit in which current faculty member John Eastman is representing President Trump in an action before the Supreme Court. In that filing, the Chapman physical address, a Chapman email, and phone number were used. I have issued a strong directive for Professor Eastman to remove from his private filing any direct or indirect reference to Chapman University and formally file such change with the court,” the announcement said.

Struppa said that the university does not involve itself in any political campaigns and that he has asked Eastman to refrain from using his university affiliation in political activity.

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Struppa told Campus Reform that the separation between Eastman and the university is an “obvious” one, and thinks Eastman “has all the right” to represent clients of his choice.

“I still believe Professor Eastman has all the right to represent any client he wants. In addition, I also think it is obvious that no professor or individual represents the university, Each member of our community speaks for him/herself, not as a representative of the institution unless it is clear the communication is an institutional one,” Struppa said.

However, some faculty members at Chapman University strongly criticized Eastman for his involvement in the lawsuit, with 159 faculty members signing a statement that it’s an “attack on American democracy.”

“John Eastman’s brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election in multiple states is a disgraceful attack on American democracy and must be regarded as such. This filing of legal errors and outright falsehoods — in which Eastman has used his Chapman email and phone number — is contrary to the core values of this university and should be regarded as an embarrassment. This is not who we are.” 

Chapman Professor of Political Science Lori Cox Han, one of the signers of the faculty statement, told Campus Reform that the faculty thought it needed to make the statement to separate the university from Eastman’s work.

“Many faculty believed we needed to make a public statement distancing the university from Eastman’s work on behalf of Trump. By using his Chapman credentials, it implied that the university signed off on his actions. That is not the case, and his use of Chapman’s email, address, and phone number in the brief to the Supreme Court was highly inappropriate.” 

Chapman University senior Samantha Callaci told Campus Reform she thinks that the reaction to Eastman’s participation is “bigoted.”

”I believe it’s wrong for anybody’s job to be under scrutiny for their political views/involvement. I believe it’s bigoted and fascist of people to call for Professor Eastman to be fired. Even more so, he’s a lawyer, and lawyers take cases regardless of if they are just, likely to win, or even a cause they believe in,” said Callaci. “To me, it seems like he’s just doing his job as part of the legal system. However, I understand the university raising complaint about him using their letterhead -- it gives the false impression that he speaks for the school. I even think that that is a firing offense. But I don’t think it’s right for him to lose his job for simply being on the President’s legal team.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ashleyecarnahan