The Gorilla Of All Litigants

Andrew D Ellis
5 min readSep 7, 2021


Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section . . . ; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section . . . shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

If you’re in a knife fight, bring a gun — a very big gun with lots of ammo. If you happen to be representing the United States of America, one of the biggest guns in your arsenal is Section 242 of the United States Code which can be found in Title 18: Crimes and Procedures. The owner of that gun is the US Department of Justice and it’s time to bring out the heavy fire-power against the anti-abortion zealots of Texas.

That’s my advice to the White House and every Democrat in the House and Senate who will listen. And, if they would listen, they could hear the overwhelming majority of Americans screaming out against the vigilante justice system just enacted in Texas (known as Senate Bill 8 or SB8) against all women, young and old, married, single, gay, straight, trans, bi, Republican, Democrat or Independent. Without doubt, it is one of the most horrific uses of the legislative process in the history of our country. But why does it seem so familiar?

You have to go back before the Civil War, when the nation as a whole was enlisted to enforce slavery in the South by the enactment in 1850 of the Fugitive Slave Act. A quick review of the Wikipedia entry tells us everything we need to know about it.

“The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 . . . penalized officials who did not arrest someone allegedly escaping from slavery, and made them liable to a fine of $1,000 (equivalent to $31,110 in 2020). Law enforcement officials everywhere were required to arrest people suspected of escaping enslavement on as little as a claimant’s sworn testimony of ownership. Habeas corpus was declared irrelevant, and the…