A judge tore into Donald Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, after she tried to argue he should be considered a protected class for being a Republican.
Protected classes are groups of people who are legally protected from discrimination based on characteristics like race, gender, sexuality, age, and the like.
Habba apparently believes political parties should be one of those groups and claimed New York Attorney General Letitia James – who has been investigating Trump’s potentially fraudulent real estate dealings in the state – is targeting him simply because she doesn’t like him.
“She has such disdain for this person because he was president, because he is Donald Trump and he could probably win again in ’24,” Habba told Judge Arthur F. Engoron. “He has First Amendment rights. He’s allowed to be a Republican.”
“He’s a protected class,” Habba then stated.
The judge followed up, asking what protected class he was part of.
“His political speech,” Habba said. “If he was not sitting as a Republican and was not a former president who might run again, this would not be happening. So she is discriminating against him for that.”
Engoron wasn’t having it.
“The traditional protected classes are race, religion, etc.,” he said. “Donald Trump doesn’t fit that model. He’s not being discriminated against based on race, is he? Or religion, is he? He’s not a protected class.”
“If Ms. James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding unlawful discrimination. He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.”
Trump, himself, has voiced opposition to actual marginalized people being considered protected classes, namely, LGBTQ people.
In 2019, a spokesperson for the White House confirmed Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act.
The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights legislation as protected categories, effectively banning job, housing, credit, and other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ people at the federal level.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all,” the spokesperson claimed, “however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
The White House spokesperson did not say what threats there were to “parental and conscience rights” in the bill, but “conscience rights” may refer to how Republicans believe that many forms of discrimination are justified if the person discriminating says their religion made them do it.
While in office, Trump also passed guidelines allowing health care professionals to refuse to provide medical care if they have personal or religious objections to it, which he framed as “conscience rights.”