DOJ Request For New ‘Emergency Powers’ Faces Bipartisan Criticism
Over the weekend Politico reported that that the Justice Department asked Congress to expand its power in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, including the power to petition a chief judge to detain people indefinitely.
According to a write-up from The Blaze:
In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.”
The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ document wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies, but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.”
This request by the DOJ clearly violates Habeas Corpus, the right to appear before a judge and request release after arrest, which would be a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution states:
“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
Politico also states that the DOJ requested permission to “pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies” as well as “expand the use of videoconference hearings, and to let some of those hearings happen without defendants’ consent.”
These outrageous proposals were met with disapproval from both sides of the aisle.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), arguably one of the most conservative senators, tweeted:
If this is a joke, it’s not funny.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of President Trump’s harshest critics, tweeted something similar.
Two Words: Hell No. https://t.co/AGlo7cz20i
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 22, 2020
Interestingly, self-avowed socialist Rep. AOC condemned the DOJ request as well, calling it “abhorrent.”
Maybe as a country we aren’t too far gone that even the far-Left won’t turn the U.S. into an outright police state.