Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Mixed Messages with a View of Religious Practices

 The first day of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial produced mixed historical messaging from his defense lawyers and a visual illustration of religious Jewish practice.

Emulating a homespun country lawyer’s mannerisms, Philadelphia lawyer Bruce Castor, Jr. belittled the idea put forward by Democrats that the framers of the Constitution who embarked on the American Revolution would look to British law as precedent that an official could be impeached after leaving office. Castor argued that the founders of our republic sought to be free of British law and thus would would not look to the former mother country for legal foundation and precedent.

His co-counsel, David I. Schoen, on the other hand, praised English law as giving rights to those charged with a crime, rights he said had been denied to Trump. 

So what is it to be? Are we beholden to English legal precedent or adverse to it? 

To anyone not familiar with religious Jewish practice, it might have been perplexing to repeatedly see Schoen put his right hand on his head as he swigged some water from a bottle. 

An Orthodox Jew, Schoen showed his faith. Religious Jews eat or drink only if their head is covered, if not by a hat or yarmulke, then at least by one’s hand. 

He also bobbed left and right while delivering his commentary, a movement familiar to anyone who has observed services in synagogues where congregants “shuckle” while praying. 

Shuckling can be done forward and backward or side to side. You can shuckle while standing or sitting. It is thought to enhance religious fervor, but there is no added religiosity to its use.