Law and Order as the Foundational Paradox of the Trump Presidency

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Stanford Law Review Online


This Essay scrutinizes the feuding between the Trump White House and various federal law enforcement agencies, concurrent with criminal lawbreaking in the Trump Administration, in an effort to extend scholarly understanding of the relationship between law-and-order politics and popular regard for rule-of-law principles. Socio-legal scholars have long argued that the politics advanced under the banner of “law and order” reduces the whole of the criminal–legal order to minority violent crime. In doing so, these politics stoke white racial anxieties regarding one or more racial minority groups. But under the Trump regime, law-and-order politics exhibited an additional benefit to its purveyors: obfuscation of the threat to the criminal–legal order posed by the very purveyors of these politics. This is to say that the criminal offending of the Trump campaign and Administration would likely have been more politically damaging to the Administration had much of the public not been fixated on Trump’s allegation of a rising tide of minority violent crime. Moreover, this same reductive logic has badly damaged the political standing of Black Lives Matter. It has often reduced the Black Lives Matter organization—effectively, a rule-of-law campaign targeting extra-legal police violence—to the limited instances of violent crime found at the margins of Black Lives Matter protest activity.


Trump Presidency, Law-and-Order Politics

Publication Citation

Trevor George Gardner, Law and Order as the Foundational Paradox of the Trump Presidency, 73 Stan. L. Rev. Online 141 (2021)


Symposium - 2021 - Policing, Race, and Power