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Ron DeSantis’s response to a pending indictment of President Trump has, to say the least, left a lot of people disappointed.
While the Florida governor has accurately labeled Alvin Bragg’s planned prosecution as politically motivated, he’s also said he plans not to get involved in the matter, and has gone out of his way to snipe at Trump over the underlying causes of the case.
BREAKING: Gov. DeSantis responds to Trump possibly being indicted.
"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair…" but says Alvin Bragg is a Soros-backed DA who is going after Trump for political reasons. pic.twitter.com/M0JiQP3KVb
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 20, 2023
At this point, it’s obvious that DeSantis plans to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, so some conflict between the two is inevitable. But it’s also disappointing, at a moment of profound crisis for the American republic, to see a muted reaction from one of the few men with the real power to do something about it.
Because Ron DeSantis can, in fact, do something, and Rep. Matt Gaetz is urging him to do it:
If I were Governor of Florida, I would not allow any Floridian to be hauled before a Soros-backed prosecutor in a blue city over politics. I wouldn’t make an exception to not protect the President of the United States.
Ron DeSantis should be standing in the breach to stop any… pic.twitter.com/jeuzxKCiGB
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 22, 2023
Gaetz’s proposal is straightforward, but dramatic: He is calling for Ron DeSantis to directly intervene in the case to prevent the extradition of Trump back to New York for trial.
It’s possible that Alvin Bragg’s office will simply wimp out at the last minute, and decide against charging Trump. It’s also possible that Trump himself will insist on peacefully surrendering to arrest, assuming he can beat the charges and that images of him in handcuffs will boost his 2024 campaign more than hurt it.
But suppose Trump really would prefer not to be arrested. Ron DeSantis’s Florida has already established itself as a refuge from Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates, and a haven from critical race theory and transgender propaganda in schools. Now, DeSantis has a chance to take his boldest step yet, and mark Florida as a sanctuary from the sinister politicization of the American justice system.
So, should Ron DeSantis do it? If Bragg brings charges against President Trump, should he intervene to block an extradition?
This move would not be without risks. In fact, the risks would be profound. But it would also be a bold step…dare we say it, a presidential step.
Can DeSantis actually take such a step? In a word, yes, but it wouldn’t be simple. DeSantis’s office has already told The Washington Times that if an extradition request reaches the governor’s desk, “he would not fulfill it.” But this is a cop-out: Extradition requests don’t cross a governor’s desk, so this is an easy promise to make. Only Florida state police are under DeSantis’s direct control. Local police, operating under orders from any local judge, could easily arrest Trump. So, in order to prevent an extradition, DeSantis would have to take active steps to protect Trump — something drastic, like bringing him to the governor’s mansion and declaring him under the protection of state troopers. DeSantis would not simply be declining to follow up on another state’s extradition request. He would have to actively announce that the charges against Trump as so illegitimate that he is intervening to prevent the arrest from being carried out.
The constitutional dimension of such a move is more debatable than one might think. The Constitution itself, in Article IV, Section 2, seems clear-cut: “A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.” Yet for nearly 130 years, from 1860 through 1987, the Supreme Court said that these extraditions could not be compelled. Instead, under its Kentucky v. Dennison precedent, the SCOTUS held that federal courts had no jurisdiction over such matters, and could not compel a state to extradite a prisoner. This decision was only overturned in 1987, in Puerto Rico v. Branstad, where progressive justice Thurgood Marshall dismissed the old case as “the product of another time,” rendered obsolete by “more than a century of constitutional development.” So, if DeSantis asserted a right to block extradition, he would at least be on firmer legal footing than Bragg’s sham indictment.
Nevertheless, if DeSantis were to defy that ruling, he would provoke genuine constitutional crisis. Bragg could sue DeSantis in federal court, and it is near-certain that a federal judge would swiftly order DeSantis to turn Trump over, immediately. And what if DeSantis refuses that order? In that case, he would be in contempt of federal court, which is both a civil offense and, in some cases, a criminal one. DeSantis’s conduct could, in effect, make it so both of the leading 2024 Republican candidates are treated as criminals by the American legal apparatus.
Such a move might be worth it, though. It would immediately expose to the entire country the real nature of its regime and its determination to permanently crush anyone who stands against it. It might also inspire other governors and states to join the fray, and while the Biden Administration might be willing to arrest one governor and one former president, even its resolve might be tested by trying to arrest the entire leadership of its opposing party.
And suppose DeSantis succeeds, instead? Suppose federal judges surprisingly support his effort, or the Biden Administration declines to enforce a ruling against him? In that case, it would quickly be open season for all fifty states to defy the extradition requests of all other states. A red state might give sanctuary to someone like Kyle Rittenhouse, wrongly accused of murder in a clear-cut case of self-defense. But blue states could similarly protect Antifa or BLM rioters. It would be at minimum one small step, and perhaps one giant leap, towards the “national divorce” that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has suggested is America’s future.
But on the flipside, this kind of defiance is already happening in America. Practically every blue city is already a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants; California and Connecticut are full-blown “sanctuary states.” Last fall, California passed SB 107, which turns the state into a sanctuary for parents who want to mutilate their children. As Revolver wrote at the time:
Under Wiener’s law, a parent who loses a custody battle could flee to California, claim that their child requires sex change treatments, and then enlist California’s courts and police to protect them in a de facto kidnapping. Is this an extreme outcome? Sure. But it’s a possible outcome, and more to the point, when that outcome eventually comes to pass, the left will defend it as stridently at it currently defends insane homeless people crapping on the sidewalk or drag queen sex offenders performing for preschoolers.
Blue states are already defying the laws of red ones, and defying federal laws as well, with the collusion of a sympathetic bureaucracy. If Ron DeSantis were to protect President Trump, he wouldn’t be in uncharted territory, but would be matching the left’s escalations with his own — something Republican leaders have been notoriously averse to doing.
But isn’t DeSantis’s entire case for the presidency that he’ll do what other Republicans won’t?