Jonathan Turley Says Tlaib Should Not Be Disbarred

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley on Friday argued that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (R-MI) should not be disbarred for her antisemitic and false comments on Israel.

Tlaib, who is also an attorney, made several false and antisemitic claims in the wake of Hamas Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The lawmaker also spread false claims that Israel bombed al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Reports from the U.S. and Israeli government have shown that it was a misfired Hamas rocket that hit the hospital. Tlaib, however, refused to retract the claim and has instead called for an investigation.

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, a free speech advocacy group, filed a complaint with the Michigan bar calling for the lawmaker to be sanctioned for her comments. The complaint, which was filed on Monday, argued that the Tlaib’s comments calls into her question her character and fitness to practice law.

“Attorney Tlaib’s false, discriminatory, and anti-Semitic comments regarding the horrific massacre and other crimes the international terrorist group Hamas ruthlessly unleashed against innocent Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023, including kidnapping, [Assault], beheading children, burning people alive, and murdering a baby by placing him in an oven. In response to these atrocities, Attorney Tlaib made several public statements evincing deeply discriminatory, antisemitic views that call into question her character and fitness to practice law,” the group wrote in the complaint.

Turley, however, believes that Tlaib’s comments were not grounds for her disbarment. The law professor argued that the hospital bombing was a common point of contention at the time Tlaib made the comments. He noted that prominent media organizations like the New York Times reported that Israel bombed the hospital.

The law professor added that Tlaib’s refusal to take down the social media where she accused Israel of bombing the hospital could be deemed unnecessary given that it had been widely reported along with her later for call for investigation.

Turley added that Tlaib’s use of the slogan “from the river to the sea —which essentially calls for Israel to be wiped out— ” is a political slogan and its use would be protected speech under the First Amendment. The law professore added some of Tlaib’s antisemitic comments are political statements that should not be the subject of bar investigations.

“As members of the free speech community, we often advocate for the speech rights of those with whom we disagree,” Turley added. “I have long disagreed with Rep. Tlaib on a host of issues, including the Hamas massacre. However, this action would cross a dangerous line in the sanctioning of political speech in my view. For that reason, I must respectfully disagree with this effort and I believe the bar should reject the call for sanctions.”