Huffpost Writer, Law Profs Play ‘Gotcha’ Against Sen. Blackburn, Look Really Silly

By David Mills Published on November 18, 2019

It’s smug. Very self-satisfied too. “GOP Senator Says Jesus Warned Against Lawyers,” begins the HuffPost headline. “It was Shakespeare Talking About Kings.” 

Smug, self-satisfied. Also embarrassingly wrong. And smarter people than the writer were wrong too. They yelled “Gotcha!” But they got gotcha’d themselves. 

What Blackburn Said That Jesus Didn’t

Sen. Martha Blackburn had tweeted: “A 3-year, coordinated effort has been underway to remove @realDonaldTrump from office. Jesus warned us — watch out for the lawyers.”

I would tell you exactly what HuffPost writer Mary Papenfuss said about this. I would, but the link now features an “editorial note.” It says the article “is no longer available on the site. It has been removed for an editorial standards issue.” Which is a lawyer’s evasive way of saying, “We published something we shouldn’t have published.” Apparently she was pretty snippy.

Other people made the same embarrassing mistake. Some have a lot more status than a random freelancer writing for a clickbaity site. Like two law professors. 

Valdeck and Taub v. Blackburn

University of Texas’s Steve Vladeck corrected the senator and threw in an attack on Trump: “It wasn’t Jesus who ‘warned us’ about the lawyers; it was Shakespeare, in Henry IV, Part II. Second, his point was that lawyers are an obstacle to a ruler who wants to consolidate government power and undermine the rule of law. Sound like anyone you know?”

He followed that with: “And for the record, the point of the line in Henry IV, Part II, was that ‘killing all the lawyers’ is a necessary step to the consolidation of authoritarian government power. So if anything, this misbegotten tweet from a member of the U.S. Senate only proves the Bard’s point.” 


Thanks to Raw Story for the links to the two professors’ tweets.


David Mills is a senior editor of The Stream. After teaching writing in a seminary, he has been editor of Touchstone and the executive editor of First Things. He edits the site Hour of Our Death and writes the monthly “Last Things” column for the New Oxford Review.

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