Law Review: Trumpery (noun) – attractive articles of little value or use |

Law Review: Trumpery (noun) – attractive articles of little value or use

As you may have heard, there is an important election coming up Tuesday. With that in mind (and with no intent to encourage you to vote one way or another), I thought the dictionary definition of “trumpery” might be telling:

Trumpery (noun): attractive articles of little value or use… practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth.

Trumpery (adjective): showy but worthless… delusive or shallow: that trumpery hope which lets us dupe ourselves.

Late Middle English (denoting trickery): from Old French tromperie from tromper “deceive”.

“Trumped up” meaning falsely made up.

Now if that doesn’t tell all.


Those are harsh words from an ardent believer and long-time student of the law, who, perhaps naively, believes that judges rule by law not by their political beliefs. With the new make up of the Supreme Court, politically selected by Trump, I’ve lost faith.


Led by Justice Thomas (who went an entire decade without asking a single question during oral arguments), the Court without comment ruled 5-3 in favor of the Alabama secretary of state’s banning curbside voting despite the COVID-19 crisis and the willingness of certain Alabama counties to assist voters with disabilities. Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagin, wrote a blistering dissent, quoted in part below:

“The Alabama secretary of state… has prohibited counties form offering curbside voting, even for voters with disabilities for whom COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal.

Several at-risk Alabama voters and associated organizations sued to enjoin that ban, along with other restrictive voting laws not at issue here.” (Porter’s comment: Alabama’s secretary of state has done everything possible to disenfranchise underprivileged voters in Alabama; the ban on curbside voting is just one of many tools used.)

“Based on the trial evidence, the District Court, concluded in relevant part that the secretary’s ban on curbside voting violated the ADA and the policy allowing, but not requiring, counties to implement curbside voting with a reasonable accommodation. The Eleventh Circuit upheld that portion of the District Court’s injunction.

In-person voters receive assistance from poll-workers; need no witnesses, notaries, or copies of their photo ID’s as Alabama law requires for absentee ballots; and know their ballot will not arrive too late or be rejected for failure to comply with absentee requirements.” (Those absentee ballot requirements are designed to screen poor voters).

“To combat the spread of Covid-19 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that States consider curbside voting, that is, permit voters to vote from their car by handing their ballot to a poll worker. The Department of Justice has sanctioned curbside voting as a remedy to ADA violations.”


As Justice Sotomayor wrote, Plaintiff Howard Porter, Jr., a black man in his seventies with Parkinson’s disease told the District Court, “So many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re passed that – we’re passed that time.”


Justice Sotomayor closed her dissent pointing out that Alabama county election officials “are ready and willing to help vulnerable voters like Mr. Porter cast their ballots without unnecessarily risking infection from a deadly virus… This Court should not stand in their way.”

With Amy Comey Barrett now on the bench, you ain’t seen nothing.

Above all, please vote no matter your preference.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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