Criminal Justice

Jury Deliberations Begin in Kyle Rittenhouse Trial After Judge Tosses Gun Charge

Plus: Yale University faces an interesting lawsuit, the ACLU takes a stance on student loan debt, and more...


Kyle Rittenhouse's fate is now in the hands of the jury, following closing arguments and another day of courtroom drama that included more irresponsible behavior from the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger.

While simulating Rittenhouse's alleged actions, Binger held up the gun and put his finger on the trigger. He did not point it at the jury, as some on Twitter claimed, but nevertheless, this was an idiotic thing to do, even assuming the gun was not loaded.

"With the recent accidental shooting on a movie set in New Mexico still fresh on our minds, Binger sweeps the courtroom spectator section with the weapon and incredulously breaks firearms handling safety rule number one—never place your finger on the trigger unless and until you have acquired a target you may have to neutralize," wrote the New York Post's James A. Gagliano. "Yet another example of those prosecuting gun crimes with little understanding of guns."

MSNBC's Joy Reid totally missed the point, tweeting: "So according to right wing Twitter, it's OUTRAGEOUS for a prosecutor to point an unloaded AR-15 toward the jury to demonstrate how scary that firearm is, but totally cool for a teenager to point a loaded one at people and shoot them." It's outrageous to point a gun at another person and put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot. Binger obviously didn't intend to open fire on the courtroom, which is why his conduct was outrageous. This doesn't apply to Rittenhouse—he intended to shoot, and did.

Note that this is the same prosecutor who was savaged last week by Judge Bruce Schroeder after Binger suggested that Rittenhouse's decision to remain silent after his arrest was indicative of guilt. Contrary to what Binger wrongly asserted, refusing to answer police questions is both a fundamental component of due process and the absolute right choice for virtually everyone who finds themselves in such a situation. (Even innocent people can accidentally incriminate themselves.)

Schroeder also dealt the prosecution a defeat on Monday, dismissing the weapons charge against Rittenhouse. The Wisconsin statute that prohibits teenagers from wielding certain firearms is confusingly worded, and the judge decided Rittenhouse's weapon was not covered by the law. The decision stunned the prosecution, but Volokh Conspiracy's Eugene Volokh argues that it was likely correct.

"Just based on the news account and the statutes, the judge's decision seems correct, especially given the 'rule of lenity': 'when there is doubt as to the meaning of a criminal statute, a court should apply the rule of lenity and interpret the statute in favor of the accused,'" writes Volokh. (Read his whole post here.)

Note that Politifact had rated as false the viral claim on Facebook that "At 17 years old Kyle (Rittenhouse) was perfectly legal to be able to possess that rifle without parental supervision." The fact-checking outlet, a project of the Poynter Institute, updated its explanatory post more than a year ago but declined to change its ruling. This is a side issue, obviously, but perhaps Facebook should not vest official fact-checking powers in an organization that lazily gets things wrong all the time.

With the gun charge tossed, the question for the jury really will come down to Rittenhouse's self-defense claim: whether the three men he shot—Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz—posed a risk to his life, and whether his decision to fire on them was reasonable. In his closing arguments, Binger tried to argue that the fact Rittenhouse had fired multiple shots at Rosenbaum rendered the self-defense claim unworkable; maybe the first shot was in self-defense, but the next three shots were not. Of course, all four shots were fired in a single second, so it's not clear that this distinction will matter to the jury: Rosenbaum was trying to take Rittenhouse's gun away, and Rittenhouse believed that Rosenbaum would have used it to shoot him, the defense has argued. (Bafflingly, the prosecution chose to mention Rosenbaum's eccentric behavior, which included setting things on fire, during closing arguments.)

The prosecution argued that while an aura of lawlessness and mayhem had descended on Kenosha during the evening of August 25, Rittenhouse choosing to enter the fray with an AR-15 was itself a provocation: He "brought a gun to a fist fight," the prosecution claimed repeatedly. But one of their own witnesses—Grosskreutz, who was shot by Rittenhouse but survived—previously testified that he also had a gun, and that he pointed it at Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse opened fire.

It's anyone's guess how the jury will rule, but liberal cable news pundits seem to be steeling themselves for an acquittal.


Two Yale Law School students are suing administrators for allegedly retaliating against them after they declined to support the school's bizarre and fraught campaign against Amy Chua, a law professor who was accused of bucking Yale's COVID-19 restrictions and hosting social gatherings with students anyway. (Chua has denied this charge.)

"Two Yale Law School deans, along with Yale Law School's Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, worked together in an attempt to blackball two students of color from job opportunities as retaliation for refusing to lie to support the University's investigation into a professor of color," according to the complaint.

The Yale Daily News reports:

The Law School's investigation into Chua's behavior was first made public in April 2021, after the News reported that she was hosting private gatherings in her New Haven home — which she shares with her husband, currently-suspended law professor Jed Rubenfeld — despite having agreed in 2019 to cease all out-of-class interactions with students due to allegations of her misconduct. After Law School administrators were informed of these gatherings, including from a 20-page dossier that was compiled by a law student with personal knowledge of the gatherings, the Law School revoked Chua's ability to lead a first-year small group.

The ensuing controversy between Chua and Law School administrators gained national attention and was covered by the New York Times, the New YorkerThe Atlantic and New York Magazine.

The Monday complaint says that Jane and John Doe were the subjects of a 20-page dossier of emails and text messages which became central to the Chua investigation.

According to the complaint, when the Law School administration became aware of the dossier, Cosgrove and Eldik pressured the two students to substantiate the claims in the dossier by submitting a formal complaint against Chua. The complaint claims that the dossier, and by extension the complaint, would have contained "knowingly and materially false statements." The lawsuit further alleges that after the students denied the contents of the dossier and declined to sign onto the statement against Chua, Cosgrove and Eldik called the students on a daily basis during one week in April 2021, saying that the two had a "moral obligation" to "future generations of students" to make the statement against Chua.

A Yale law school alumni says the diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracy at the campus has behaved badly.


While student loan payments were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education recently announced that borrowers will have to begin making payments again in January 2022. This news has dismayed progressives, who would like the Biden administration to permanently cancel student loan repayments, in effect canceling all that debt. The White House has reportedly considered the matter of whether it has the authority to actually do that without congressional approval.

Canceling all student loan debt would constitute a massive bailout of people who attended college and, in many cases, received a degree. While student debt can be a heavy burden, people with degrees tend to have better employment prospects—and thus access to potential wealth—than people without degrees. The government would thus be granting a massive boon to a relatively privileged population, and would not be addressing the underlying structures (i.e., subsidized student loans) that contributed to this mess.

Nevertheless, more than 100 public advocacy organizations are urging the administration to go ahead and cancel student debt. One inexplicable name on that list: the American Civil Liberties Union.

Set aside the dubious proposition that student debt is a racial issue. Is it a civil liberties issue? Why is the ACLU transforming itself into a generic progressive advocacy group that cheers for all left-wing causes, regardless of whether they align with the stated mission? As the Cato Institute's David Boaz wondered, "I'm here for the civil liberties meeting. Is it down the hall?"


  • President Joe Biden has signed the infrastructure bill.
  • The White House is trying to make it sound like Vice President Kamala Harris is loved and valued following a CNN report citing anonymous sources which said pretty much everyone on the inside is deeply frustrated with her.
  • Steve Bannon turned himself in to authorities on Monday after initially flouting a congressional subpoena order stemming from his potential role in the January 6 mayhem.
  • A Connecticut judge ruled against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for making defamatory claims about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
  • The Wyoming GOP no longer considers Rep. Liz Cheney (R–Wy.) to be a Republican.