So Invite Him In

A story is told about a defiant non-believer who stood outside a shtibl (a small synagogue) one Sabbath afternoon, yelling hostile imprecations, while the congregation inside were eating the traditional Sabbath “Third Meal” (a tradition that treats the Day of Rest with special love and significance). Members of the congregation raced to the Rabbi and told him what was transpiring outside. “What should we do?” they asked the wise Rabbi.

The Rabbi responded with a gleam in his eye: “So invite him in. Give him a special seat at the front table. Set a special portion of food for him. Pour him some of our best wine. Make him feel at home and comfortable.”

The congregants were aghast: “But Rabbi, the things he is shouting outside! The terrible words! The vileness of it all! How can you sit there so calmly and measured, telling us to invite him in and treat him royally like that?”

The Rabbi responded: “Until you invite him in, sit him down, and serve him, you can’t pick him up and throw him out!”

Which brings us to Jim Acosta.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly has ruled that the White House must restore to CNN’s Jim Acosta a hard pass that allows him back into the White House to attend press conferences and such. Unlike the usual scenario that sees an Obama-appointed judge seemingly up-end the rule of law by blocking some Trump Administration initiative or other, knowing that the politically motivated ruling will be affirmed by the Clinton-Obama-dominated United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, this ruling for CNN and Acosta was handed down by a federal judge with strong ties to the conservative Federalist Society. Indeed, Judge Kelly was named to the bench by President Trump himself.

Thus, in this situation, the conservative principles we advocate were upheld. A judge ruled based not on personal whim but on a sincere grasp of Constitutional principles as he understands them. And the President of the United States — whom his Left Democrat haters regularly accuse of manifesting autocratic and anti-democratic tendencies — once again has responded, as he always does, by accepting the rule of law, deferring to the Constitution’s division of powers, and allowing that his desired outcome will not be.

This respect that President Trump consistently manifests for the Constitution’s division of powers deserves an extra emphasis: Every time a judge has ruled against his Administration, President Trump respectfully and dutifully has complied. When the courts ruled against his entry ban, he complied. When they ruled against the way he wanted to handle families illegally crossing at the southern border, he complied. When an Obama judge recently stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, he complied. He always complies. Similarly, when his repeal-and-replace effort on Obamacare was stymied in the Senate, he accepted the setback and complied. When he could not (yet) get $25 billion from Congress to build The Wall, he complied. He always complies. Thus, it is beyond despicable that the Left Media and their Democrat stooges — or is it the other way around? — continue accusing this President of being anything short of a Constitutionally consistent leader who, for all his tweeting, always upholds the rule of law as prescribed by our Constitution.

Now the President is faced with a reasonable court ruling by Judge Kelly. The bottom line derived from Judge Kelly’s order is that the White House needs to put into place formal rules governing proper behavior at press conferences so that the public can be assured that “journalists” and “reporters” attending these events are on notice regarding their required behavior. The public should be assured that the President is not comporting himself capriciously when he acts against an Acosta, that the decision to pull his credentials is based not on whim but on a fair basis, pursuant to reasonable rules.

For most of us, we do not need such rules. Our mothers and fathers taught them to us. You do not yell at people if they are not yelling at you. You say “please” and “thank you.” You treat the police officer with respect even if he or she is a jerk, your teacher with respect even if he or she is an idiot, your priest or pastor or rabbi with respect even if you think your congregation could have done better. You treat your parents with respect, people older than you with respect, hosts who invite you into their homes or offices with respect, your boss or other supervisor with respect, judges with respect. And, for goodness sakes, you treat the President of the United States with respect. When you walk into someone else’s quarters, you recognize that you are a guest, a visitor, and you conduct yourself with a modicum of decency. When your host, having given you a chance to speak, says “that’s enough,” you sit down. When lots of other people in the room also want to speak, you have to let them get their fair turn. When the host asks his assistant, whether male or female, to take back a microphone, you comply and do not fight to hold it.

These are rules of common courtesy. They should not need formal publication. But because the stakes are high — another President could be less deferential to rules of conduct and to the Constitution than Mr. Trump — Judge Kelly felt it important to set a precedent, subject to appellate review. And the Trump White House has announced that it will comply, as they always comply with court orders and the rule of law. This is a good thing. It also is long overdue that there be formal rules of conduct for press conferences. People in the room should be required to raise their hands and not shout to be recognized. My teacher in first grade demanded of us that same conduct in Yeshiva Rambam, my elementary school, and all my teachers required it in subsequent years. We could not even get permission to go to the restroom if we called out. We had to raise our hands, remain silent, and wait to be recognized. You couldn’t just yell out: “I HAVE TO MAKE!”

In watching these press conferences, it long has been shameful viewing and hearing the shabby yelling, the brazen defiance. Instead, there should be a rule that they raise their hands quietly and wait their turn until they are recognized. That they be limited to no more than two questions per person, perhaps with a follow-up. That they only may ask questions, not make declarative statements, and certainly not articulate their own views. If Jim Acosta has views of his own that he wants to disseminate, he can invite people to his own press conference, and Donald Trump can go there and raise his hand if he wants to learn those views. Otherwise, at a White House press conference, just questions, no statements.

This is a good thing. And the best part of Judge Kelly’s ruling is that, until you invite Jim Acosta in and give him a lovely chair in an honorable front section of the press room, you can’t throw him out.

Dov Fischer
Dov Fischer
Follow Their Stories:
View More
Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., a high-stakes litigation attorney of more than twenty-five years and an adjunct professor of law of more than fifteen years, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His legal career has included serving as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerking for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then litigating at three of America’s most prominent law firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. Through the years, he has practiced both in the United States federal courts and in the state courts on a broad range of case matters, gaining expertise in virtually every subject area of complex civil litigation including labor and employment law, securities litigation, federal government contracts litigation, bankruptcy law, ERISA law, Hague Service Convention and Hague Evidence Convention practice, professional malpractice law, entertainment litigation, federal and state fair-credit-reporting requirements, the filed-rate doctrine as it affects carriers on land and rails, insurance bad faith, cybersquatting, commercial lessors’ rights, international contracts, fair-housing litigation, the law of computer role-playing games, federal and state antitrust matters, director and officer liability, defamation and false-light litigation, unfair-business-practices law, and the fuller gamut of advanced torts and classic breach-of-contract case matters. He also has practiced appellate law successfully, authoring the winning brief in Bierbower v. FHP, Inc., 70 Cal. App. 4th 1, 82 Cal. Rptr. 2d 393 (1999). His UCLA Law Review analysis of director-and-officer liability issues in depository institutions has been cited in a broad range of federal district court and appellate circuit opinions. Among his major complex litigation representations, Rabbi Fischer represented Philip Morris during the California tobacco litigation, overseeing their massive document production effort; and the accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick during the Orange County bankruptcy litigation. In addition to representing such other major corporate clients as Samsung, Hughes Aircraft, Experian, KPMG Peat Marwick, Albertson’s Stores, Embassy Suites, Spencer Gifts, Cardinal Health, BOC Gases, IHI Danmark, Wet Seal, Bioware (“Baldur’s Gate”), and Occidental Petroleum, Rabbi Fischer also has devoted substantial pro bono efforts unique to his background, working to prevent unwarranted autopsies, inducing recalcitrant spouses to grant Gett-based Jewish divorces, representing communal rabbinic leaders sued for advocating unpopular but courageous positions, and participating in representing the successful plaintiffs’ class in the nationwide class-action lawsuit brought against European insurance companies by surviving families of Holocaust victims. He also disappointed his then-young son when he successfully represented a client named Stan Lee in a cybersquatting defense against an eponymous plaintiff whose colorful literary output his son admired. In his rabbinical career, Rabbi Fischer has served three terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, is Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, has been Vice President of Zionist Organization of America, and has served on boards of Jewish Federations in New Jersey and in Los Angeles, on boards of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith Hillel, and several others. Earlier in his career, he was national director of American Friends of Likud / Herut Zionists of America, and he participated with 35 other once-young families in founding, building, and living a year in a then-new American community in Ginot Shomron, Israel (referred to by Israel’s opponents as a “West Bank settlement”). His writings on contemporary political issues have been appearing nationally for forty years, dating back to his undergraduate years at Columbia University, where he amazingly was elected to represent the college student body in the University Senate. Those writings have appeared over the years in publications including but not limited to the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Jerusalem Post, National Review, American Greatness, American Thinker, The Weekly Standard, Frontpage Magazine, American Thinker, Jewish World Review, Israel National News / Arutz Sheva, and in other Jewish newsmedia in American and in Israel. He also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit. Among his proudest honors, Brooklyn-born Rabbi Fischer has been named an “Honorary Kentucky Colonel” by four different Governors of that Commonwealth recognizing his service to and passionate love of that state, has been honored by law students for faculty recognition, has received national awards and recognition for his academic and scholarly writings, and is a winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics.
Sign Up to receive Our Latest Updates! Register