I covered the antics of the Duty to Warn movement of anti-Trump shrinks earlier this week.
There were no drums when Bandy X. Lee, the organizer of Yale’s ‘Duty to Warn’ conference showed up on Capitol Hill to “brief” Dem politicians about Trump’s mental illness that she diagnosed over Twitter. Lee, a self-proclaimed expert on the prison system, apparently isn’t even currently licensed to practice.
But on Twitter, Bandy X. Lee explained that she had been "licensed on two continents," has "excellent credentials," a "flawless ethics history" and speaks "four languages.” On Vox, Lee claimed that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem was a “pathological” example of him “resorting to violence”. Then she blamed him for “an increase in schoolyard bullying.” Appearing on MSNBC, she warned that Trump “could be the end of humankind.”
But now Bandy X. Lee, who appears not to have a current license,has become the most high profile figure in the group, is really pushing it.
In our interview, Lee also told me that there are Washington-based doctors and legal groups who’ve said they would be willing to help commit the president involuntarily if they receive concerned reports from the White House that the president is an immediate danger to himself or others. (She declined to name the doctors or legal groups).
Lee also claims that “if [a psychiatrist] were to see [the president] on film and he were decompensating”—exhibiting a sharp deterioration—“and no other psychiatrist were stepping forth, then we actually have to step forth, we don’t have a choice, that’s an emergency. A physician has emergency clearance so they should be able to get to the site of emergency.”
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, in Washington D.C., an emergency psychiatric evaluationcan be ordered by a police officer; an agent of the Department of Mental Health; or a person’s qualified psychologist “who has reason to believe that a person is mentally ill and, because of the illness, is likely to injure himself or others if he is not immediately detained may, without a warrant, take the person into custody.” But it’s not likely that an emergency evaluation—let alone involuntary commitment—would be ordered on hearsay or television evidence alone.
“You’ve got to be kidding. That’s preposterous,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, the chairman of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. “What kind of chaos would you have? … That would be anarchy.” The president could hypothetically be compelled to undergo tests under the 25th Amendment, but that would be up to the vice president and the Cabinet—and is not something an independent psychiatrist could instigate, he said.
Yes and no.
Conventional norms are expiring quickly. We've seen some insane usurpations of power by Federal judges in only one year. Federal judges have insisted that President Trump has no right to set immigration policy, no right to set military standards, no right to suspend an ad-hoc policy of the previous admin like DACA amnesty, and really no power to do anything that the left disapproves of.
Could a Federal judge rule in favor of some coup troika of left-wing activist shrinks, lawyers and politicians? I wouldn't rule it out. It would be a completely illegitimate decision. But so is declaring that the President of the United States can't pause immigration from Syria because it would inconvenience the University of Hawaii. Fundamental legal norms have been routinely tossed out by the left. And the Obama generation of judges is particularly notorious for a combination of radical politics and constitutional ignorance.
The left is trying to get inside every door. It's like a zombie outbreak. This is one door. Not the likeliest one, but the left has a hundred more.
The real issue this raises is the inevitable collision between the elected branches of government and an activist judiciary. And this would be the breaking point for such a confrontation as it would involve a judge, effectively, removing the President of the United States.
Judges have done things like that locally. Trump would be the ultimate test case of judicial supremacism. And while I would like to think that this crisis isn't coming, it may well show up before we know it.
In total, only three House Democrats I contacted ruled out attending a briefing. Staffers for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told me she wasn’t involved in arranging the sessions and declined to comment further.